Healthcast : Protection Against Cervical Cancer

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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 explains. 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.

Cervical cancer is nearly always caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the World Health Organization. This happens when the body's immune system fails to kill off the HPV and the viral infection persists, eventually causing cervical cancer.

The research found that women from around the world who had ever used an IUD had a reduced risk of cervical cancer compared with those who hadn't used one, but it's not clear whether this would be true in the UK.

"The results of our study are very exciting", coauthor Laila Muderspach added.

Previous research has established a link between women who use non-hormonal IUDs and lower endometrial cancer incidence.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 528,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide in 2012, and 266,000 women died from the disease. "Cervical cancer protection would be more icing on the cake of a great contraceptive choice".

Other limitations include the lack of data on how long women used IUDs, the type of devices they had or their age when they first got this type of birth control, the authors note online November 3 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

But Lichtenfeld was concerned that some of the larger studies included in the analysis dated back to the 1980s and 1990s, when IUDs were being prescribed in the United States to a more select group of women. The best ways to reduce your risk of cervical cancer are to have the HPV vaccine if you are between 12 and 18 years old, stop smoking and attend cervical screening appointments.

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The number of women around the world diagnosed with cervical cancer is growing steadily.

"However, studies like these only providing associations (likelihood) and not cause or effects".

For the sake of these women, Cortessis said she's hopeful that clinical studies will confirm her analysis.

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

Women who had used an IUD were 36% less likely to develop cervical cancer (odds ratio 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.53 to 0.77). Hence, the body would ward off a current HPV infection which could lead to cervical cancer.

Although gynaecologists won't begin recommending the coil for cancer protection just yet, it could be on the horizon.

How IUDs are reducing the chance of cervical cancer is the question.

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