Study: IUD use decreases risk of ovarian cancer

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DENVER (CBS) Nearly 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer in 2019. Now, new research has found that women who use IUDs for birth control may be lowering their ovarian cancer risk.

For five years, Amy Dickson Plache has bravely battled ovarian cancer with chemotherapy, clinical trials, radiation and more. Even now, she's in treatment. "I won't be cured, but I'll just live with this as a chronic disease much like you know someone who had diabetes or you know arthritis," she said.

Plache has an inherited genetic mutation known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Tests show her daughter Abby also carries the genetic mutation. "It was shocking and obviously scary," Abby Plache said. "There's so many unknowns with cancer."

But unbeknownst to the Plaches, Abby's choice for birth control, an IUD, may actually reduce her risk. "I think this data is incredibly compelling," said Dr. Saketh Guntupalli, Plache's oncologist.

Dr. Guntupalli and Dr. Lindsay Wheeler are two of the doctors at University of Colorado School of Medicine who analyzed 11 international studies. "We found that the risk of ovarian cancer was decreased when a patient had a history of IUD use," Dr. Wheeler said.

The risk reduction ranged from 15 to 32 percent. The belief is it may be tied to the hormones in some IUDs or the increase in immune cells due to an IUD's inflammatory effects could play a role. "We know that immune cells are increasingly thought of as being involved in cancer prevention," said Dr. Guntupalli.

For the Plaches, it's a win. "I do genuinely feel like it's a big step in right direction," said Abby Plache.

Doctors suggest talking with your OB-GYN about what contraception is best for you.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer mainly develops in older women, with about half of women diagnosed age 63 and older.