The use of an IUD reduces the risk of cervical cancer by half Catalan research units have found

Catalan researchers participated in an international study which analysed of more than 20,000 women from various countries. They have found that using intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUD) reduces the risk to suffer cervical cancer by half.


September 13, 2011 10:54 PM

L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (ACN).- The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) may protect against cervical cancer, according to the conclusions of an epidemiological study. The advanced study involved researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Institute of Biomedical Research of Bellvitge (IDIBELL). The results show that women who had used an IUD halved the risk of developing cervical cancer compared with those who never used the contraceptive device. The study has been published in the electronic edition of the Lancet Oncology journal, one of the most reputable journals internationally. Previous studies on the effects of its use in the development of this cancer had not shown conclusive results.

Xavier Castellsagué, a researcher from the IDIBELL Virus and Cancer Research Program and Cancer Epidemiology of the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and his team assessed the effects using a IUD in relation to the risk of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the subsequent risk of developing cervical cancer. To do this, they analysed data from ten studies of cervical cancer conducted in eight countries, and sixteen studies of HPV prevalence in women from four continents.

The research looked at 20,000 women from various countries. The use of the IUD did not affect the risk of HPV infection but was associated with a significantly lower risk of cervical cancer, specifically the two major types of cervical cancer, reducing the likelihood of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 44% and adenosquamous carcinoma or adenosquamous by 54%.

The time of IUD use did not significantly alter the risk of cervical cancer. The risk was reduced by nearly half in the first year of use and the protective effect remained equally significant for up to ten years of use after.

The study's authors state that "the associations findings suggest that use of the IUD does not alter the likelihood of contracting an HPV infection (the cause of cervical cancer), but could affect, by reducing, the likelihood of the progression of HPV in cervical cancer."

Among the possible explanations for the protective effect of the IUD, the authors note, could lie in the process of inserting and removing the device as it may destroy pancreatic lesions, it has also been theorised that the device induces a chronic inflammation of the mucous and prolongs the length of immune response, thus reducing the likelihood of the progression of HPV.

The results were adjusted to take into account confounding factors such as the number of cells, number of sexual partners and the age of the first sexual encounter amongst others.

The reference for this article is: Castellsagué X., Díaz M., Vaccarella S., de Sanjosé S., Muñoz N., Herrero R., Franceschi S., Meijer C. and Bosch X. Intrauterine device use, cervical human papillomavirus, and risk of cervical cancer: a pooled analysis of 26 epidemiological studies. The Lancet Oncology 2011 DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70223-6.