Infertility Linked to Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Randy Morris

Infertility Linked to Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Randy Morris

Numerous studies have been done in the past trying to determine the relationship between infertility and some types of cancer in women. Some of these suggest that the fertility medicines used during treatment are responsible for an increased risk in breast and ovarian cancer. Other studies contradict these findings and say that the drugs themselves are not linked to an increased risk of cancer.

New Infertility and Cancer Study

A new study out of Denmark published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at this association again and found that an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers could be due to the women’s underlying infertility and not the treatments.

54,362 women were included in the research. All women with cancer are included in the Danish cancer registry. Patients who were seen in Danish fertility clinics were compared to the general Danish population. Since it is well known that women who have never given birth have a higher risk for developing these cancers compared with women who have had children, the study took into account the amount of children each woman had previously given birth too. The median length of follow-up was 13 years.

Results

When the results were examined, the incidence of breast and ovarian cancers were highly increased for infertile women. In addition, the risk of breast cancer increased with a longer length of follow-up. All of this suggests that other infertility related factors have the potential to increase the risk of these cancers.

More Investigation Needed

Further studies are in the works to investigate infertility and infertility treatment on cancer risk. Furthermore, since these results are primarily based on cancers occurring at a younger age, more research is needed further down the road to determine the long-term risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer among these infertile women.