Around 2 % of infertile women are with cancers; the researcher authors from Stanford University explain. The study, which is entitled “Risk of cancer in infertile women; analysis of US claims data” published in the latest issue of the journal Human Reproduction. The researchers explain that women with fertility problems who undergo In VitroFertilization (IVF); are exposed to medications and drugs which alter their hormonal levels and balance.
Such hormonal changes could lead to cancer. Infertility is also linked to genetic problems; the researchers explain, which may increase the likelihood of mutations and cancer. The team followed more than64,000 women with fertility problems; over four years. These women compared with 3.1 million women who had no fertility problems. Those who were infertile more likely to develop cancer.
The infertile women
Around 2 % of the infertile women diagnosed with cancer; compared to 1.7 % for fertile women. They do not know the causes of the increase in cancer that they found in this study whether it might infertility itself; the causes of infertility, or the infertility treatment. They can only show there is an association between them. In the future, they hope that we will able to understand why infertile women are at higher risk of cancer, for example, by identifying a common, underlying mechanism that can cause cancer and infertility.”
The researchers explain that there have concerns regarding the long-term ill effects of the drugs used in IVF. These generally stimulate the ovaries to produce extra eggs which can then collected and fertilized in the laboratory to create embryos. Such medications also alter the hormones in the body of the woman which can trigger certain cancers such as those of the ovary, endometrium or uterus and breast.
The ovarian cancer
Authors write that infertile women are 78 % more likely to diagnosed with uterine cancer and 64 % more likely to diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Infertile women are also 59 % more likely to get gall bladder cancer. The low overall incidence of cancer among these women means that one in 49 infertile women develop cancer during the follow-up period comparing to one in 59 women in the women who were not infertile.
Although the absolute increase in cancer risk among infertile women was small; this increase was in only a short period of four years of follow-up. They need to carry out further research with longer follow-up to determine what factors may influence the long-term risk of cancer for infertile women.