The worldwide use of birth control pills is associated with a decrease in ovarian cancer deaths in the last two decades, especially in the U.S. and Europe, a new study reports. The study predicts that mortality rates will continue to decline because oral contraceptives may offer long-term protection against this type of cancer. A decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy is also associated with the lower mortality rates, the study said. The study, “Global trends and predictions in ovarian cancer mortality,” was published by M. Malvezzi and colleagues in the journal Annals of Oncology. “Over the past two decades, ovarian cancer mortality rates have tended to level off and decrease in several high-income European countries and North America, where rates were highest,” Eva Negri, PhD, ScD, head of epidemiologic methods at the IRCCS Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri in Milan, Italy, wrote in the report. “Advancements in diagnosis and treatment may also have influenced these trends, particularly in high-income countries. However, persisting marked differences in ovarian cancer patterns and trends across various areas of the world remain,” she wrote Using the WHO database, researchers analyzed death rates by ovarian cancer in patients from 1970 to 2012 (or the most recent year available) in all countries of the European Union except Cyprus, 11 countries from the Americas, including the U.S., and six other countries worldwide. Countries with less than 2 million inhabitants or less than 500 deaths by ovarian cancer from 2005 to 2009 were not included in the study.