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Despite popular concerns that using fertility drugs can effect a woman’s chance of developing a variety of ‘female cancers’ in later life, an American study has found that there is ‘little evidence’ that the use of conventional fertility drugs or hormones used to treat women who have difficulty conceiving leads to an increase in risk or development of breast can gynaecological cancers such as uterine cancer.
According to the results of a significant 30 year-long study, hormone therapy and fertility drugs which stimulate the ovaries. The study involved the retrospective investigation of over 12,100 women that were treated for infertility between the years of 1965 and 1988 at various US sites. The follow-up study lasted until 2010, with evaluation based on questionnaire and linkage to US death and cancer lists.
Fertility drugs have previously shown to increase levels of the main female hormones estradiol and progesterone – hormones which have been shown to increase the likelihood of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers developing. Fertility drugs used to stimulate the ovaries before the early 1980s were more likely to contain chemicals which increased the levels of these specific hormones and therefore increased the likelihood of cancer. Since then, drugs which contain human menopausal gonadotrophins (hMG) and follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) have been developed and introduced into the mainstream treatment plan for patients suffering with fertility problems, these hormones have little or no correlation to the development of ‘female’ cancers including cancer of the breast, ovaries and womb.
Research on fertility drugs and their correlation to incidence rates of cancer has yielded conflicting views throughout the medical field. Studies from the 1990s showed an increased likelihood of cancer in women who took fertility drugs, whereas another Dutch study reported that fertility drugs actually made it less likely for you to develop cancer.
“Despite the biological plausibility, results of studies featuring fertility drugs and breast or gynaecological cancers present a mixed picture, with some showing increases in risk of developing the diseases, others showed decreases and other showed no substantial associations.” Said Dr Humberto Scoccia from the University of Illinois.