- Women who used intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control could lower their risk of ovarian cancer by between 15% and 32%
- The risk was mitigated whether women used hormonal or non-hormonal IUDs
- Researchers believe it’s because IUDs combat estrogen, the hormone that increases the risk of several cancers
- Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, with 14,000 estimated to die in 2019
Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control may have a lower risk of ovarian cancer, a new study finds.
Researchers found that IUDs could lower their cancer risk by as much as 32 percent.
Moreover, the benefits were recognized whether women opted for the hormonal or the non-hormonal IUD.
The team, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says that doctors should consider cancer risk when prescribing IUDs, and other contraceptives, to their patients.
A new study, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has found that, with both the hormonal and non-hormonal IUD, women can lower their cancer risk by up to 32% (file image)
Ovarian cancer occurs when the disease originates from the cells in and around the ovary.
Symptoms include persistent abdominal pain and/or bloating, heartburn, frequent urination and feeling full quickly.
In the majority of cases, ovarian cancer affects women over the age of 50, or postmenopausal women.
The cancer has been called the ‘silent killer’ because, in 80 percent of cases, it is diagnosed at an advanced stage when it has already spread to other parts of the body.
However, if caught in an early stage, a woman has a more than 90 percent chance of long-term survival.
It is estimated that more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, and around 14,000 will die.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
‘We know that ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecologic cancers. Anything we can do to decrease that risk is very important,’ said lead author Dr Lindsay Wheeler, a gynecologic oncology fellow at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
For the study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the team reviewed 11 previous studies on the subject.
Researchers found that, whether women used the hormonal or the non-hormonal IUD, the devices could lower their cancer risk by 15 to 32 percent.
After some analysis, the team believes the risk was lowered because the IUD combats high levels of estrogen, the hormone that has been shown to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
‘Many types of IUDs have hormones in them and exhibit anti-estrogenic effects which may help women who are at high risk for ovarian and uterine cancers,’ said Dr Saketh Guntupalli, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
‘The second reason was that all the different kinds of IUDs…resulted in some local inflammatory effects. Immune cells increase and are thought to halt the threat of cancer.’
Further research will focus one type of IUD at a time and whether how long a woman uses one plays a role, but the authors say the findings are ‘incredibly compelling’.
IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control that require little maintenance.
They are 99 percent effective – meaning fewer than one out of 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant each year – and they can last anywhere from three to six years, meaning it is favored among health experts.