Contraceptive coil 'may prevent cervical cancer'

Henrietta Brewer
November 9, 2017

A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of having birth control that goes inside of their bodies.

A promising study about the third cancer most common among women. Given that IUDs are one of the most popular and effective birth control methods women use - and the number one choice of OB/GYNs for birth control, according to a 2013 survey from Planned Parenthood - fact that they could help reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer is very good news for women who use IUDs, or will in the future.

"We were really surprised by the extent of the reduction of the risk", stresses Victoria Cortessis, assistant professor of clinical preventive health care at the university of Southern California and one of the main co-authors.

Access to preventative services such as cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine is driving down rates of the cancer in some parts of the world, but rates are rising in others, according to the review.

"It does fit well into our understanding of the critical role of persistent HPV infection in causing cervical cancer", she said.

The researchers said that while gynecologists shouldn't begin recommending the coil for protection against cervical cancer quite yet, it could be on the horizon.

Here's hoping that even more studies are done finding a correlation between IUD use and the incidence of cervical cancer decreasing.

Cortessis agreed that confounding variables are a limitation of the meta-analysis.

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at the use of an IUD and the incidence of cervical cancer.

Confounding variables - or factors that the researcher can't control for - have always been a worry in research on IUDs and cervical cancer, Franco told Live Science.

"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".

"This new study allows us to now add another awesome benefit, which includes reducing the risk of cervical cancer", Dr. Ross says. As HPV causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer in the United Kingdom, the NHS has offered the HPV vaccine to girls aged 12 to 18 since 2008.

"[The study] is unlikely to change clinical practice and women's opinions regarding IUD". They can protect themselves against getting pregnant, while warding off the cervical cancer risk. This means they can not yet tell what keeps the cancer risk away.

Dr Cortessis also noted a contraceptive that offers protection against the disease can have a "profound" effect especially for women in developing countries.

"However, studies like these only providing associations (likelihood) and not cause or effects". It comes in two types - one is made of copper, while the other is plastic and emits a small amount of the female hormone progestin. For any further need, you can take notes.

"We would not want women to think [IUDs] replace the excellent protection provided by HPV vaccination and regular cervical screening", she said.

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