Can IUDs lessen the risk of cervical cancer?

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are among the more popular forms of birth control in America. They are considered as 99% effective and as “set-it-and-forget-it” birth control, according to Planned Parenthood. It has so many benefits, which makes it a popular choice for those who want to prevent conceiving. But as it turns out, IUDs have more benefits than what is normally documented.

The Cancer Link

Researchers studied the link between IUDs and the risk of cervical cancer in a paper entitled “Intrauterine Device Use and Cervical Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Published in the renowned Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, the study revealed a staggering finding of the possibility of IUDs reducing the risk of cervical cancer.

According to the paper, “invasive cervical cancer may be approximately one third less frequent in women who have used an IUD.” This finding can be a life-changer in scenarios where the populations have high cervical cancer incidences but have limited access to screening for the disease.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) writes that in 2017, “About 12,820 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed.” The same source goes on to say that an estimated 4,210 women are expected to die from the disease within the same period. This low mortality rate is attributed to the popularity of the Pap test, a procedure that women of childbearing age are supposed to take at least once a year. The Pap test makes it possible to find evidence of cervical cancer before it can spread in the body.

However, there are still places where screening for cervical cancer is not widespread. In the majority of these cases, the IUD is available.

The Non-Contraceptive Benefit

After examining 16 observational studies that targeted 12,000 women, the study found out that women who use IUDs are 30% less likely to get cervical cancer in comparison with those who do not use it. While the exact cause for this is unclear right now, study lead author Dr. Victoria K. Cortessis posits interesting theories.

One of these theories is that the IUD is placed in an area where cervical cancer cells typically congregate and grow. Upon insertion of the IUD, the immune system, therefore, focuses on the area because of the introduction of a foreign object. Once it does, then the growing cancer cells are eradicated before they can grow enough to be a threat. Another theory is that cervical cells that contain the infection that causes cancer is “scraped off,” although the lead author is quick to point out that she’s skeptical of that theory.

Nevertheless, more studies are needed to solidify the connection between getting an IUD and reducing the risk of cervical cancer. The authors also put out a call that discourages women from getting the IUD to reduce the risk of getting the big C. Rather, if they are going to get the IUD, then they should do so for its known benefits. Among these benefits are its efficacy in preventing pregnancy. To reduce the risk of getting cancer, then getting vaccinated against it and getting regular Pap tests should be considered.

IUD didn’t help?

Intrauterine devices have become part of many’s safety precaution step for family planning, and knowing that it can potentially prevent cancer is a great bonus factor. If IUD failed to prevent the growth of cancer cells on your part, New Hope Unlimited will find ways to treat and stop your disease using less conventional, yet effective methods. Call us today at 480-757-6573 or complete our online form.

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