In vitro fertilization (IVF) often requires hormone treatment to hyperstimulate ovulation. The procedure exposes women to heightened levels of estrogen.
Researchers have found that exposing young women to hormone treatments as part of IVF may be linked to an increased prevalence of breast cancer.
Over 21,000 women were evaluated to determine if there was a link between IVF and breast cancer.
When all of the women were lumped together, the researchers did not find a link. However, when they split the group based on age of treatment, they found an interesting result.
For women who received fertility drugs around their mid-20s and subsequently received IVF, they had a 56% greater chance of eventually developing breast cancer when compared to those women who did not receive fertility drugs.
There was no increased risk in older women who started fertility treatment around the age of 40.
Researchers point out that it’s unclear if the increased risk is a direct effect of the IVF therapy or a consequence of an underlying disease.
Overall, IVF was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but these data suggest that additional research is required to fully understand the age-associated link that was observed.