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09 November 2017, 09:23 | Melissa Porter
SEXUAL HEALING The contraceptive coil could protect against cancer
An IUD is a safe and effective form of contraception, but using one offers no guarantee against cervical cancer. Some 528.000 women received this diagnosis in 2012 and 266.000 died this same year, according to the world health Organization (WHO). 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. And since the 2016 election, IUD demand has spiked 900 percent.
Study lead author Doctor Victoria Cortessis, of The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said: "The pattern we found was stunning". Adding, "The possibility that a woman could experience some help with cancer control at the same time she is making contraception decisions could potentially be very, very impact".
The researchers searched online medical databases for studies looking at whether women who had and had not used an IUD developed cervical cancer.
You may be wondering how women get cervical cancer in the first place.
This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at the use of an IUD and the incidence of cervical cancer. This means they can not yet tell what keeps the cancer risk away.
High incidence of cervical cancer across the globe is a key driver for the growth of global cervical cancer therapies and diagnostics market. Numerous studies, for example, did not include HIV status or family history of cervical cancer, both of which raise the risk of cervical cancer.
"IUD in the uterus stimulates an immune response, and that immune response very, very substantially destroys sperm and keeps sperm from reaching the egg", Cortessis said.
"It does fit well into our understanding of the critical role of persistent HPV infection in causing cervical cancer", she said.
The research team said also said the IUD could protect against cancer as it is removed, because some cervical cells that contain HPV infection or precancerous changes may be scraped off.
However, Dr Pradeep Tanwar, who investigates gynaecological cancers, said the study was limiting.
She said that it could be that these IUDs trigger an immune response that ends up strengthening the body to fight a viral infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
This is inaccurate. In fact, there were "other reasons" discussed in the study that could have affected the results, including the type of IUD (hormonal or copper), the woman's age at the time of having the IUD and how long the IUD was used for. Cervical cancer is usually a slow developing type of cancer which may or may not exhibit symptoms of the disease.
But no matter how the data was tested in relation to these variables, the researchers found the same results, she said: The rate of cervical cancer in IUD users was a third lower than among nonusers. "It looks real. It smells real, but to be really convinced, we need to go back and do studies to find a mechanism".
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