Oral contraceptives and primary liver cancer

C. La Vecchia, E. Negri, F. Parazzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relative risk for developing primary liver cancer in northern Italian users of oral contraceptives, compared to matched controls was calculated based on reported cases in hospitals in the greater Milan area from 1984-1987. The incidence of and mortality from primary liver cancer, as well as the prevalence of oral contraceptive usage, have both been rising to Italy since the late 1950s. 21 cases of liver cancer, in women aged 32-59 (median 50), occurred in the Milan area during the study period. These women, and 145 controls matched for age but admitted to hospitals for a variety of non-neoplastic diseases, were interviewed with a structured questionnaire covering socio-demographics, life style, diet, medical history, and history of use of oral contraceptives and other drugs. 19.0% of the cases had used oral contraceptives compared to 7.6% of controls, a relative risk of 1.8 for up to 5 years' use, and 8.3 for 5 years. History of hepatitis was associated with 14% of cases and 7% of controls. Italians have a higher incidence of liver neoplasms that northern Europeans and Americans, probably because of higher incidence of risk factors, such as hepatitis and alcohol use. The attributable risk for oral contraception, however, is lower in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-461
Number of pages2
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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