Intrauterine devices may decrease risk of cervical cancer

 
By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 3rd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Taking a particular food, medicine or supplement or doing a certain activity can sometimes help ward off different kinds of cancer. Coffee was found to counter skin cancer, fiber fights colon cancer and regular exercise keeps the heart healthy. But what if a gadget were the key to keeping cancer away?

January is National Cervical Health Awareness month. Cervical cancer affects nearly 10,000 women in the United States and most cases are caused by a sexually transmitted disease known as the human papilloma [pap-uh-LO-muh] virus, or H-P-V. And according to the American Social Health Society, about three quarters of sexually active people will be infected at some point in their lives. But a new study found that when women used an intrauterine device for birth control, they reduced their risk of getting cervical cancer by half.

Intrauterine devices, or I-U-Ds, are T-shaped devices that are placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Experts at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain who conducted the study, believe the I-U-D doesn’t actually stop H-P-V. Rather, it prevents H-P-V from progressing to full-blown cervical cancer. The process of inserting and removing the device might destroy precancerous cells. It might also trigger a long-lasting immune response that thwarts the development of H-P-V.

What’s more, the benefits of this birth control device lasted up to 10 years.

But if an I-U-D isn’t an option, there are lots of other ways to keep your cervix strong. If you’re 25 or younger, getting the H-P-V vaccination, which has been approved by the F-D-A, is a great first start. Practicing safe sex, bolstering your immune system, taking birth control pills for more than five years and avoiding smoking also lower your risk. What better way to start 2012 then by making sure you’re taking steps to protect yourself from cervical cancer?