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Recurrent use of newer oral contraceptives and the risk of venous thromboembolism.

Author(s): Suissa S, Spitzer WO, Rainville B, Cusson J, Lewis M, Heinemann L

Affiliation(s): Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal, H3A 1A2, Canada.

Publication date & source: 2000-04, Hum Reprod., 15(4):817-21.

The epidemiological studies that assessed the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) associated with newer oral contraceptives (OC) did not distinguish between patterns of OC use, namely first-time users, repeaters and switchers. Data from a Transnational case-control study were used to assess the risk of VTE for the latter patterns of use, while accounting for duration of use. Over the period 1993-1996, 551 cases of VTE were identified in Germany and the UK along with 2066 controls. Totals of 128 cases and 650 controls were analysed for repeat use and 135 cases and 622 controls for switching patterns. The adjusted rate ratio of VTE for repeat users of third generation OC was 0.6 (95% CI:0.3-1.2) relative to repeat users of second generation pills, whereas it was 1.3 (95% CI:0.7-2.4) for switchers from second to third generation pills relative to switchers from third to second generation pills. We conclude that second and third generation agents are associated with equivalent risks of VTE when the same agent is used repeatedly after interruption periods or when users are switched between the two generations of pills. These analyses suggest that the higher risk observed for the newer OC in other studies may be the result of inadequate comparisons of pill users with different patterns of pill use.

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