IVF shown to have no impact on ovarian cancer risk

IVF shown to have no impact on ovarian cancer risk

A new study has found that fertility treatments such as IVF don't appear to increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.

Previous studies have suggested that women who used assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF may be at risk for ovarian cancer due to increased levels of sex hormones needed to stimulate egg production, as well as multiple punctures disrupting ovarian tissue.

In this latest study, researchers analysed data from the Netherlands looking at more than 30,600 women who received ovarian stimulation for ART between 1983 and 2001 and compared them with nearly 10,000 infertile women who didn't receive such treatment.

After a median follow-up of 24 years, the women had 158 invasive cancers across both ART and non-ART groups.

Significantly, women who had ART treatment did not have a higher cancer risk than infertile women who did not have ART treatment - even after more than 20 years had passed.

Compared with women in the general population, women who underwent ART did have a higher ovarian cancer risk, however, researchers said this was mainly because a higher proportion of women who received ART never had children. Childlessness has previously been shown to be a strong risk factor for ovarian cancer. The researchers also found that the risk of ovarian cancer decreased among women with a larger number of successful ART cycles resulting in childbirth.

"Reassuringly, women who received ovarian stimulation for assisted reproductive technology do not have an increased risk of malignant ovarian cancer, not even in the long run," said lead author Flora van Leeuwen.

SOURCE: JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Nov. 17, 2020

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