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The Independent Online
Fears of a panic by users of the Pill were triggered yesterday by a leaked report of a study which is said to suggest that women face a small but increased risk of breast cancer for up to 10 years after they stop taking oral contraceptives, although other research has shown it to protect against some forms of cancer and heart disease. The research, to be published in the Lancet medical journal, follows a four-year study.

The chief executive of the Family Planning Association, Anne Weyman, said yesterday that there was no reason to panic. "The study shows a very small additional risk [of breast cancer] for younger women which increases with age. These risks have to be balanced with the Pill's protection against other cancers, such as ovarian and endometrial cancer." A spokeswoman for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, which was involved in the research, said no details of the study - a leaked copy of which was reported in the Sunday Times - would be given before today.

Last October the Government warned 1.5 million women to switch to different Pills because of risks of blood clots associated with seven brands. In April, it emerged that there was a huge increase in requests for abortions as women stopped taking the Pill following the October scare. The Family Planning Association said women should discuss any fears with their GP or a family planning clinic.