Women who use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant above the age of 40 are more likely to develop a breast cancer, according to a new research from Danish scientists.
A team of scientists at Copenhagen University analyzed medical records of 59,000 women who used fertility treatment to get pregnant and compared those records against 567,000 women of equal age who conceived children naturally.
Overall, women in the assisted group had 10 per cent higher chance of getting breast cancer than the controlled group. And the risk was progressing with the age goes up, reaching its pick for women who underwent IVF after they turned 40. The reason for that is the drugs that are used to stimulate ovaries to release more eggs and thus, to have more embryos. Those drugs increase levels oestrogen, a female hormone, which can encourage some cancer cells to grow.
The study was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Vienna. Professor Geeta Nargund, of St George’s Hospital in London said: “This is a finding of great significance. This is a wake-up call about the use of high dose stimulation in IVF, especially in women over the age of 40. It highlights the need to counsel women about their potential health risk in the future.”
Despite the raised risk, the overall likelihood of getting breast cancer is still small. The overall risk of developing cancer in the age range of the women in the study was 0.6 per cent for women who give birth naturally, compared to 0.8 per cent chance for women who underwent IVF treatment.
Besides, it is already known that being infertile is linked with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, with some studies suggesting the increased likelihood may be as high as 20 per cent.
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Source: The Telegraph