Women who struggle with infertility are often given medications to conceive, and the possible side effects are always a concern. Now, according to research, drug use does not increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
Researchers at King’s College London in the United Kingdom analyzed studies conducted from 1990 to January 2020. Women were generally followed for 27 years after treatment.
During that time, the risk of breast cancer did not increase significantly among women who received fertility treatment, compared with women who did not receive treatment for infertility, as published this week in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
“Fertility treatment can be an emotional experience,” said Yusuf Beebeejaun, co-author of Clinical Research on Reproductive Medicine. Patients often ask us if taking drugs that stimulate the ovaries increases cancer risk, including breast cancer.
Sesh Sunkara, the study’s author, said the study provides evidence to support women and couples seeking fertility treatment.
“Our study shows that women who use drugs to stimulate the ovaries for fertility are less likely to grow breast cancer,” she said in a college news release.
The researchers described it as the most extensive study ever conducted to assess whether the widely used fertility drugs increase cancer risk in women.
Fertile drugs have been used to treat infertility since the early 1960s to stimulate the ovaries to release eggs. Drugs have been shown to increase the production of the hormone estrogen, which can act on breast cells, turning it into cancer.
According to Kathy Lindeman, a patient counselor who has received fertility treatment, “Fear, stress, and anxiety associated with fertility treatment are rooted mainly in uncertainty. This study gives patients peace of mind on an emotional level and enables us to make more informed decisions about therapeutic risks and benefits on a logical level.
The findings are comforting, and the researchers said more long-term and detailed studies are needed to confirm these results.
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