Do Fertility Treatments Increase Cancer Risk?

Science Weighs In

In recent years, a growing number of women have turned to fertility treatments to assist with their pregnancy efforts. With this trend has come concerns about the side effects of such treatments, especially with regards to cancer risk. If the results of a recent study are correct, than expecting mothers might be able to breathe sigh of relief.

Looking at the Data

This report comes courtesy from the University College London (UCL), and was published in the British Medical Journal. For their research, the authors examined data from over 250,000 women, collected over a span of nearly two decades (1991 to 2010).

On average, these women were monitored for nearly nine years, and received their first treatment at 34.5 years of age. Upon sifting through this data, they did find a small increased risk of non-invasive breast and ovarian tumors but this was not caused by fertility treatments.

In summarizing their work, the UCL team did acknowledge that previous studies had reached inconclusive results regarding this topic. However, they also point out that their work is the most comprehensive report on fertility treatment and cancer risk. “This is by far the largest study and represents good news for women and couples considering assisted reproductive technology or those who have already had ART,” stated UCL professor Alastair Sutcliffe.

A Common and Costly Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 6% of women in the 15-44 age bracket experience infertility. A 2014 report noted that Americans spend 3.5 billion on the infertility services market, which includes money spent on fertility drugs and infertility clinics. In vitro fertilization alone accounted for nearly $2 billion of this figure.

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