A possible link between a breast cancer gene and infertility has been found in a new study from New York Medical College.
Lead researcher Dr Kutluk Oktay, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, showed that mutations in the BRCA1 gene, which have been linked with early onset breast cancer, are also associated with an early loss of egg reserves.
This might help to explain why women who carry a mutated BRCA1 gene have greater rates of infertility as well as a greater risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
During the study, researchers performed ovarian stimulation in 126 women with breast cancer for the purpose of fertility preservation by embryo or oocyte cryopreservation.
Of the 82 women, who met the inclusion criteria, 47 women had undergone BRCA testing, with 14 having a mutation in BRCA genes.
In BRCA mutation-positive patients, the low ovarian response rate was significantly greater than for patients who did not show BRCA gene mutations, nor for women who had not been tested for the gene at all.
Oktay added if fertility drugs are not as effective in stimulating egg production in the ovaries of patients who carry BRCA1 mutations, this establishes a link between infertility and the risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.