IVF drugs may reduce breast cancer risk

Fertility treatment could help to prevent breast cancer, according to research presented yesterday at the annual conference in Philadelphia of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Fertility treatment could help to prevent breast cancer, according to research presented yesterday at the annual conference in Philadelphia of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Infertile women who were given drugs to boost their chances of having a child had a 26 per cent reduced risk of the disease compared to infertile women who did not undergo treatment, the research found. The finding scotched fears that the strong doses of hormones in fertility drugs might increase the risk of breast cancer. Some pro-life groups have claimed that fertility treatments trigger the disease and should not be used.

Scientists from the University of Ottawa looked at almost 2,000 medical trials involving 20,000 women. They found no difference in breast cancer rates between infertile women who had received assisted reproductive technology treatment and women with no fertility problems.

The technology involves giving strong drugs containing hormones such as oestrogen to boost egg production and the likelihood of conception.

Oestrogen has been linked to the development of breast cancer. But infertile women who had been treated for their problems had a 26 per cent lower cancer rate than those who had not. It is well known that having children reduces a woman's risk of breast cancer, but this is the first study to suggest that fertility treatment for those who find it difficult to conceive may also help to lower the incidence.

Scientists believe that other chemicals contained in the fertility drugs may be responsible for the reduction. The researchers said the results were "new and reassuring" and called for more such studies.

A spokeswoman for the charity Cancer Research said: "A transient increase in breast cancer risk in the first year after IVF has been previously reported by a large Australian study, although incidence in the longer follow-up period was no greater than expected. These new results showing no link between IVF and breast cancer will provide reassurance to infertile women considering the treatment."

Concern about a possible link between breast cancer and fertility treatment was raised last year by Sarah Parkinson, the partner of the comedian Paul Merton, shortly before her death from the disease.

Cancer charities say the fear is shared by many women undergoing IVF, despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence of a link. Specialists point out that although women are exposed to high levels of hormones containing oestrogen during fertility treatment, these levels are no higher than would be produced naturally during pregnancy.

Peter Brinsden, medical director of Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, said he had used ovary-stimulating drugs without evidence of risk for more than 30 years. Laura Riley, director of Progress, the reproductive research charity, described the latest finding as "very reassuring" and said it would "put many women's minds at rest who are contemplating fertility treatment or have had it".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower