Oral contraceptives linked to increased risk of lupus

April 8th, 2009 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, April 8 (IANS) Use of oral contraceptives was linked to an increased risk of lupus, particularly among women who recently started taking them, according to a large population based study.
The ratio of women to men with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is nine to one and the incidence increases after puberty.

If you have SLE, something goes wrong with your immune system and it attacks healthy cells and tissues, characterised by inflammation of and damage to joints, tendons, connective tissues and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys.

Hormones are, therefore, believed to play an important role in the origins of the disease.

Led by Samy Suissa of the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital of McGill University in Montreal, researchers obtained data on more than 1.7 million women aged between 18 and 45 years from Britain General Practice Research Database, which contains more than six million people.

The women had prescriptions for combined oral contraceptives (COCs) containing estrogen and progestogen. During an average of eight years of follow-up, 786 women had a first-time diagnosis of SLE.

Each case was matched with upto 10 controls among women without SLE at the time of the case’s diagnosis.

The results showed that the use of COCs was associated with a significant increased risk of newly diagnosed SLE, said a McGill release.

The study was published in the April issue of Arthritis Care and Research.

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