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Can IUDs Prevent Cervical Cancer?

Although intrauterine devices (IUDs) are only used as a source of birth control by about 1 percent of the U.S. population (10 million women use them worldwide though), these small plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus may do much more than prevent pregnancy. According to new research published in The Lancet Oncology, IUD use may significantly cut cervical cancer risk, too.

When compared to women who had never used one, scientists found that those who had used an IUD for at least a year had almost half the risk for developing both major types of cervical cancer (squamous cell and adenosquamous carcinoma). Cervical cancer is caused by infection with the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus. 
 
In previous studies, IUD use has been found to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. However, doctors in the U.S. have been reluctant to offer patients IUDs because of past experiences with the Dalkon Shield, an IUD withdrawn from the market decades ago after being linked to pelvic inflammatory disease.
 

 

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