A new study from the University of Lund in Sweden has shown that fertility treatment such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) does not increase a woman's risk of cancer despite the hormones used.
Some previous studies had suggested that fertility drugs might be linked with breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.
AdvertisementHowever, the new latest study found that far fewer women developed one or more cancers following IVF compared to those who had not had such treatment.
In research, scientists analysed data from 24,000 women who gave birth after IVF between 1982 and 2006.
They compared rates of cancer in these women to 1.4 million women in the general Swedish population who also gave birth over that period.
Fewer than two per cent of women in the IVF group developed one or more cancers during an average follow-up period of 8 years, compared to close to five per cent of the other group.
After accounting for maternal age, the number of previous pregnancies and smoking status, the overall risk of cancer was about 25 per cent lower for women who had IVF.
While the risk of ovarian cancer was more than twice as high in the women who had IVF as those who didn't, study leader Dr Bengt Kallen suggested that this may be due to abnormalities in ovarian function that could both increase the risk for cancer and the risk for infertility, thus the need for IVF.
"The risk for two common cancers, breast and cervical, was significantly lower than expected," the Daily Mail quoted Kallen as saying.
He added that this might be due to women who get IVF being healthier than average or, more likely, that IVF-treated women may undergo more cervical and mammography exams.
The study has been reported in Human Reproduction.