Scientists are developing a new contraceptive pill that they claim does not carry the increased risk of breast cancer associated with the existing combined pill.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh hope the new pill might actually protect against the disease and say the drug could be available within five years.
The pill, which works by stopping a woman's periods altogether, could also mean an end to the pre-menstrual tension experienced by some women.
Professor of reproductive endocrinology, David Baird, who is heading the research, also believes the new pill could be used to treat conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids.
"There is no theoretical reason why the new pill should increase the risk of breast cancer, as it does not contain oestrogen - if anything it might be expected to reduce the risk," Professor Baird said.
"If you reduce the cyclical exposure of the ovary to the ovarian hormones oestrogen and progesterone, you should reduce the risk of breast cancer," he added.
Jeremy Hughes of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer insisted that it was "too early" to say what effect the new pill would have on breast cancer risk and said longer term studies were needed to determine whether there were any effects.