Medicine

Contraceptive helix protects against cervical cancer

Contraceptive helix protects against cervical cancer

An IUD is a safe and effective form of contraception, but using one offers no guarantee against cervical cancer. HPV vaccine is known to protect against cervical cancer. "It's a common infection and in about 90% of women who have HPV, their body will clear the virus on its own but in 10% of women, the infections don't clear up and they can turn into cervical cancer", Cortessis says. And since the 2016 election, IUD demand has spiked 900 percent.

"The potential association between birth control methods and cancer has been of interest for many years", said Dr. George Sawaya, a reproductive health and cancer researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who wasn't involved in the study. "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", she said.

"Even if the rate of cervical cancer remains steady, the actual number of women with cervical cancer is poised to explode".

Around 528,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide in 2012 and 266,000 women died from the disease.

The theory is that the act of inserting the device may trigger a cellular response that acts against persistent HPV infections and pre-malignant cervical lesions.

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This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that any previous use of an IUD reduces the risk of cervical cancer. Cortessis said understanding this is the next step. Another possible mechanism could be a long-term immune response, she said. As HPV causes the majority of cases of cervical cancer in the United Kingdom, the NHS has offered the HPV vaccine to girls aged 12 to 18 since 2008.

The research team said that another possibility is that when an IUD is removed, some cervical cells that contain HPV infection or precancerous changes may be scraped off. And more research is needed before gynecologists can begin recommending IUDs for protection against cervical cancer, Cortessis and other medical experts agreed. "By stimulating an immune response in the cervix which fights against a current or new HPV infection, this ultimately reduces the risk of developing cancer of the cervix".

This is inaccurate. In fact, there were "other reasons" discussed in the study that could have affected the results, including the type of IUD (hormonal or copper), the woman's age at the time of having the IUD and how long the IUD was used for.

Dr. Michael Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion, agrees about the benefits of IUDs. In addition, complex tests that require many sampling instruments, need of trained pathologists & cytotechnicians, and need for continuous monitoring to obtain high-quality results are all major factors restraining the growth of the global cervical cancer therapies and diagnostics market.


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