Healthcare research has disproved the theory that fertility drugs increase women’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. A new study published in the Fertility and Sterility journal revealed that no link exists between the two.
Lead author, Albert Asante, said: “One important message is women who need to use fertility drugs to get pregnant should not worry about using these fertility drugs”.
The study was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where an ovarian cancer study was already ongoing. Nearly 2,000 women took part in the study - just over 1,000 of which had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The other half did not have the condition.
Out of the 1,028 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, approximately 17 per cent reported using fertility drugs at some point. About 24 per cent of those without cancer had used fertility drugs. When scientists took into account factors that affect cancer risk, like age, family history, and use of oestrogen pills, they discovered that the cancer rates between the two groups are roughly equivalent.
Over time, many conflicting reports have been published on the matter, some of which indicate that fertility drugs do increase risk of ovarian cancer. Scientists think these contradictory discoveries may be blamed on the fact that fertility drugs have changed significantly in the past few decades. The findings suggest current medication is safer and gentler on the system than previous fertility drugs. A plethora of fertility tests and effective treatments are available for women who are struggling to become pregnant.
More research needs to be done to clarify the matter once and for all, Dr Asante said. The subject is complicated, as ovarian cancer is a rare disease that often develops later in life. Assessing the effects of fertility drugs on ovarian cancer has always been difficult, as infertile women are considered to be at an increased risk of cancer.
Although no link between the treatment and ovarian cancer was found, Dr Asante recommended women exercise caution should they take fertility drugs for more than a year at a time. He suggested additional monitoring for tumors in these cases.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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