Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Do IVF drugs cause cancer?

Infertile women have to tackle a great deal of emotional turmoil; adding insult to injury is the range of misconceptions related to the use of infertility drugs. Some people even believe that doing IVF will increase their risk of getting ovarian cancer. What’s the truth ?

It isn’t difficult to understand why women would consider this to be the case- it sounds logical! We are aware that breast cancer is a tumor that is hormonally dependent, and during IVF treatment, the woman’s estrogen levels are very high. In addition, the patient is also given a number of hormonal injections to boost the production of eggs in her ovaries.

If this hormonal stimulation helps in the production of eggs, it’s logical to conclude that this overactivity in the ovaries can up the risk of cancer later on too. Its goes without saying that husbands are also very scared about what effect these drugs have on their wives and they don’t want her health to be put at risk in their pursuit of having a baby.

What do the data show?

It isn’t an easy task to assess whether there is a rise in cancer risk after doing IVF; this is because there are just too many variables to take into account, including:

An individual’s life style
Their family history of cancer
Their exposure to carcinogens

All of these are very likely to impact the results and it isn’t easy to conduct these studies. A recent study involving 9175 Finnish women showed that the general risk of cancer or the risk of hormone-related cancer was not increased by IVF (PMID:22343550).  There was another study in Lancet which examined the incidence of ovarian and breast cancer in 10,358 women who had been referred for IVF between 1978 and 1992.  They reached the conclusion that the ovarian stimulation procedure during IVF doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer in women. It was also found that there was no significant rise in ovarian cancer post stimulation for IVF. PMID:7475593).

Time Tested Results

Keep in mind that the IVF hormonal injections are essentially natural hormones; these are promptly excreted from your body and don’t  really linger and cause trouble later. Over the last 30 decades, more than 2 million IVF babies have been born across  the world and there has been no increased prevalence of ovarian and breast cancer; and this is a very reassuring fact.  Doing IVF does not increase your risk of developing cancer at a later stage.

So why is this misconception still so prevalent ? Here’s a possible reason. We know that 1 in 10 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Now, if she develops breast cancer after doing IVF , she is likely to conclude that it was the IVF which caused her to develop breast cancer. The truth is that would have developed breast cancer, whether or not she had done IVF !

Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you better!

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