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News » Filed under: Cervical Cancer

Study: Cervical Cancer Risk Lower in IUD Users

Article date: September 20, 2011

By Stacy Simon

A new study contradicts a widespread assumption that using an intrauterine device (IUD) increases the risk of cervical cancer. In fact, the large international study showed a lower cervical cancer risk in IUD users.

Researchers from the Institut Català d'Oncologia in Catalonia, Spain, examined 26 previous studies involving about 20,000 women from more than a dozen countries who were followed for 10 years. They found that women who used IUDs for as little as 1 year had half the risk of developing cervical cancer as women who never used IUDs. Longer use of IUDs did not further affect the risk. IUDs are a form of birth control.

Previous studies have long 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. It’s also the first to account for human papilloma virus (HPV) in its analysis.

HPV can sometimes lead to cervical cancer. The study found that 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.

Worldwide, IUDs are the most widely used reversible method of birth control. However, only about 1% to 2% of women in the United States who use birth control choose an IUD. This may be because of problems with the Dalkon Shield IUD, which was taken off the market in 1974. Research and improvements since then have made IUDs safe and effective for women who use birth control, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

Citation: Intrauterine device use, cervical infection with human papillomavirus, and risk of cervical cancer: a pooled analysis of 26 epidemiological studies. Published online September 13, 2011 in The Lancet Oncology. First author: Xavier Castellsagué, MD, Institut Català d'Oncologia.

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