Fertility and Cancer: Is There a Link?

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IVF and Cancer Risk: Is There a Link?

If a connection were to be found between IVF and cancer risk, it probably wouldn’t elicit much surprise among the general public. After all, when patients are undergoing IVF or other fertility treatments, they are subjected to high doses of hormones that may be associated with conditions like breast or ovarian cancer. Recent research, however, has consistently confirmed that no correlation between IVF and cancer risk exists — except, perhaps, in specific populations.

IVF Is Not Linked to Breast Cancer

A study published last summer in JAMA put those speculations to rest. With a sample size of over 25,000 women who had undergone at least one IVF or non-IVF fertility treatment, the study concluded that there is no link between IVF or non-IVF fertility treatments and and breast cancer. Participants were followed for an average of 21 year to assess whether or not there was a long-term association between fertility treatment and cancer risk. Surprisingly, the study even found that breast cancer risk was lowest in women who had undergone seven or more rounds of IVF — though this is not to suggest that the mechanisms of IVF contributed to a reduction in breast cancer risk.

These findings confirm a 2014 review of studies pertaining to IVF and cancer risk. Including data from eight studies, this review had a subject pool of over 1.5 million women. A meta-analysis concluded that there was no significant association between IVF and breast cancer risk for women who had undergone fertility treatment, as compared to the general population.

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