Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Women who use IUDs may have lower risk of cervical cancer

An IUD, sometimes called a coil, is a small t-shaped device inserted into the womb that prevents pregnancy by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or fallopian tubes.

In 16 studies that involved almost 5,000 women who developed cervical cancer and just over 7,500 women who did not develop the disease, researchers found evidence suggesting that women who use the contraceptive device have 30 percent reduced risk of getting cervical cancer than those who did not use it.

According to The Sun, researchers at the University of Southern California carried out the study by analysing 16 previous studies involving 12,000 women worldwide. All these women used various methods of contraception, but those who chose IUDs were less likely to develop cervical cancer than all the other ones. "It was not subtle at all", said the study's lead author, Victoria Cortessis, PhD, associate professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School.

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women globally. Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide. By 2035, more than 756.000 women could be with this type of cancer and 416.000 deaths, indicate the projections of the WHO.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable particularly in Western countries where screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infections are available.

"A staggering number of women in the developing world are on the verge of entering the age range where the risk for cervical cancer is the highest - the 30s to the 60s", she revealed in the report.

Cervical cancer rates are declining in the United States, due to greater use of the HPV vaccine and access to screening technology.

Not quite yet, but it could be on the horizon.

Further research should however be conducted to understand the biological mechanism that provides this protection.

Some believe the placement of the IUD causes an immune response in the cervix that helps the body ward off an HPV infection that could one day lead to cervical cancer. Or perhaps when the IUD is removed, some precancerous cervical cells or ones with HPV are removed.

"If we can demonstrate that the body mounts an immune response to having an IUD placed, for example, then we could begin investigating whether an IUD can clear a persistent HPV infection in a clinical trial", said co-author Laila Muderspach, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School. There could have been other reasons for the results that were specific to the individual countries where the studies were carried out - a mix of developed nations, such as Spain, and developing nations, such as Kenya. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine said the damage appeared even in patients who experienced mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. These faculty direct the education of approximately 800 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and postgraduate degrees.

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