RE COIL: The IUD may protect against cancer

At a time when there’s a new scare about the cancer risks of the contraceptive pill, it’s heartening to hear that another contraceptive device – the IUD, or coil – might have a protective effect.

Researchers believe the coil may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, although they’re not sure why this should be. Perhaps the inflammation caused by the coil might kill off cancer cells, or it could be because the endometrium is shed each time, they surmise.

Whatever the reason, the research team from St Louis University found the coil offered some protection when they compared the lifestyles of 128 women with endometrial cancer against 255 healthy women.

Interestingly, they found that the contraceptive pill also offered some protection, but less than the coil.

If the pill is a protective agent against endometrial cancer, it doubles your risk of cervical cancer if you have taken it continuously for 10 years, a World Health Organization study has concluded.

(Source: European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 2002; 105: 166-9).

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