IUDS linked to lower risk of cer­vi­cal can­cer

Business Daily (Kenya) - - LIFE: HEALTH - AN­GELA OKETCH aoketch@ke.na­tion­media.com

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.

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