IUDS linked to lower risk of cervical cancer
Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDS) for contraception might have a lower risk of cervical cancer than their counterparts who do not use this form of birth control, a recent study suggests.
The study by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California involved the examination of data from 16 previously published studies involving 4,945 women who had cervical cancer and 7,537 women who did not. Overall, the researchers found that women who used an IUD were 36 per cent less likely to get cervical cancer than those who did not use them.
IUDS are T-shaped devices generally less than 2.54cm long that are inserted into the uterus for birth control. They can be used for several years to prevent pregnancy by impeding the fertilisation.
“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 impactful,” said lead author of the study, Victoria Cortessis.
When doctors insert IUDS, irritation of the cervical tissue might trigger an immune response that helps fight HPV infections, she said. The presence of the device in the uterus and cervical canal might also cause an immune response.
“To be really convinced, we need to go back and do studies to find a mechanism. If we can demonstrate that the body mounts an immune response to having an IUD placed, for example, then we could begin investigating whether an IUD can clear a persistent HPV infection in a clinical trial,” explained co-author Laila Muderspach.
The double benefits of IUD could come as a boon for women such as Juliet Akinyi, a mother of two who took it up as a contraception option last year. “If it’s true that it can also prevent cervical cancer, then this is what we should be using as women because cervical cancer is the number one killer of women in Kenya,” she says.
Cervical cancer is the second-most frequent cancer among Kenyan women and the leading cause of death among females of reproduc- tive age.
According to latest Health ministry figures, at least 4,802 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually and 2,451 deaths reported. By 2025, the number of new cervical cancer cases annually is forecast to reach 4,200, according to the Kenya Cancer Registry.
Cervical cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among 15- and 44year-old women in Kenya.
It is the only type of cancer that can be fully cured. Compared to the cost of treating it, less expensive of prevention is easier through health education, vaccination, timely screening and early treatment.
The World Health Organisation projects 756,000 cervical cancer cases and 416,000 deaths by 2035.