IUD Use Lowers Cancer Risk
Learn More About This Topic: Chat with Us | Email Us
Using an intrauterine device (IUD) lowers a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, a recent study suggests.
The international study by Spain's Institut Castala d'Oncologia found woman who had used an IUD, even for a short period of time, had almost half the risk for developing cervical cancer, which is caused by infection with the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).
Researchers examined 26 previous studies involving nearly 20,000 women from more than a dozen countries who were followed for 10 years. They discovered that longer use of IUDs did not further impact the risk.
Previous studies have associated IUDs with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer. This new study, published in the journal Lancet Oncology, is the largest to examine the association between IUDs and cervical cancer risk.
HPV has been linked to cervical cancer. The study found IUD use did not make it any less likely for a woman to be infected with HPV, but may have made it less likely that HPV progressed to cervical cancer. The researchers speculate that inserting or removing the IUD may destroy precancerous lesions or trigger a long-term immune response that helps keep HPV from progressing.
While the research is promising, Maurie Markman, MD, senior vice president of clinical affairs and national director of medical oncology for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, warns the results will need to be confirmed.
“The reasons for the association are not obvious,” Markman said. “It would certainly be profoundly inappropriate to suggest this could be considered an alternative or even a superior strategy for preventing cervical cancer compared to HPV vaccination.”
Worldwide, IUDs are the most widely used reversible method of birth control. However, only about one to two percent of women in the United States who use birth control choose an IUD. In the United States, an estimated 12,200 cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed in 2010, according to the American Cancer Society.