Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Intrauterine device use linked to 30% lower risk of cervical cancer

Intrauterine device use linked to 30% lower risk of cervical cancer

To explore the theory, the team scoured medical literature for research that measured IUD use and cases of cervical cancer. "It was not subtle at all", said lead author Victoria Cortessis, associate professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, part of the University of Southern California. "IUDs could be a tool to combat this impending epidemic", she said.

According to ScienceDaily, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide.

"One important conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that there is no associated increased risk of cervical cancer with IUD use", Sawaya said by email.

Incidence of cervical cancer in women with IUDs was one-third lower than in those without an IUD, according to the study of 12,000 women worldwide.

She said that even if the benefit is small, she believes it would be worthwhile for women to consider using an IUD. While The Guardian correctly reported that more research is needed to understand how IUDs work to protect against cancer, the Mail Online said "very strong evidence" was found that the IUD coil protects against cervical cancer and that the analysis "could not find any other reason" for this association.

Even so, the results suggest it's worth continuing to research the potential for IUDs to help prevent cervical cancer, said Dr. Michelle Moniz, an obstetrics and gynecology researcher at the University of MI in Ann Arbor who wasn't involved in the study.

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"The results of our study are very exciting", coauthor Laila Muderspach added. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The studies also included information on risk factors for the disease, such as age at first vaginal intercourse and if the women had HPV.

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at the use of an IUD and the incidence of cervical cancer. The studies included 4,945 women who developed cervical cancer and 7,537 who did not.

"Would I recommend an IUD exclusively for cervical cancer prevention?"

As randomised controlled trials would be unethical when looking at the risk of cervical cancer, this review was mostly based on case-control studies. "I would recommend the HPV vaccine for that; however, millions of women may benefit from the IUD for contraception and for the non-contraceptive benefits".

"This new study allows us to now add another unbelievable benefit, which includes reducing the risk of cervical cancer", Dr. Ross says. The immune system reacts over time to the foreign body of the IUD, and this immune response could also target the HPV, Cortessis said.

For women in developing countries, where cervical cancer prevention resources such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or regular cervical screenings are scarce, and where populations are increasing rapidly, a contraceptive that offers protection against cervical cancer could have a profound effect, Cortessis said.

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