Women's Health

Possible Connection Between IVF and Ovarian Cancer Explored

Possible Connection Between IVF and Ovarian Cancer Explored

Possible Connection Between IVF and Ovarian Cancer Explored

Cancer is a rather complex illness that is still not well-understood. Research shows that there are a number of different causes and risk factors, ranging from infectious diseases to genetics and environmental toxins. Subtle alterations can cause normal cells to divide out of control, thereby triggering cancer. Cancerous cells are challenging to kill precisely because they are so similar to normal cells.

With over 80% of couples having trouble getting pregnant, IVF treatment is on the rise. Yet, it is not without its risks, and one of the larger threats has been its connection with ovarian cancer.

Throughout the years, a few studies have directed their focus on how IVF treatment could cause cancer, but recent research assures women that there is little to no risk.

Past research suggested high risk

According to a Dutch study conducted back in 2011, researchers suggested that IVF drugs stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs and in due time, this may cause subtle alterations in epithelial cells that eventually lead to borderline ovarian tumors. The research study revealed that 15 years following an initial IVF treatment, women who had undergone IVF were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, as opposed to the women who had not undergone IVF. Yet, a deeper dive in the analysis showed that:

  • The increased risk was primarily driven by “borderline” ovarian tumors, which are less likely to spread to other areas of the body and tend to be more responsive to treatment;
  • 30 women in the IVF group experienced invasive ovarian cancers and the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant
  • Women over the age of 55 had a 0.45% chance of developing some type of ovarian malignancy, including less harmful borderline tumors. In women over the age of 55 who had undergone IVF, the risk was 0.71%. This indicated that even at higher doses associated with IVF treatment, there was less than a 1% chance of developing ovarian cancer

Now, a nationwide study from Denmark has shown otherwise, concluding that there is no causal association between IVF treatment and fertility drugs and any increased risk of ovarian cancer. Read on to learn more.