Study Reveals IVF Treatment Does Not Raise Breast Cancer Risk: IVF Treatment Previously Linked To Breast Cancer

A 2012 study conducted by Australian researchers suggested that IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatments were linked to higher risk of breast cancer, but a new study carried out by the Dutch determined otherwise. IVF treatments are no longer believed to cause breast cancer.

In the oldest study, Australian researchers used more than 21,000 women and concluded that those who have undergone IVF treatment at a young age have a higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who haven’t undergone IVF.

Young women who have undergone IVF were informed wrongly about their higher risk of breast cancer [Image via Shutterstock]The researchers conducted studies between 1983 and 2002 on women between the ages of 20 and 40. They followed the women for approximately 16 years to determine if any of them developed breast cancer.

It was determined that nearly 1.7 percent of women who had undergone IVF developed breast cancer. University of Western Australia’s lead author and researcher, Louise Stewart, does think the risk is not significantly higher with those who have undergone IVF but believes that doctors should keep it in mind.

“I don’t think it’s a huge increased risk that you should worry or panic about.”

Further, the study claimed that a person who undergoes IVF around their 24th birthday accrues a whopping 56 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer.

What exactly is the reason that IVF was ever thought to cause breast cancer in the first place? IVF treatment is a hormonal treatment, and hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are linked to breast cancer.

President-elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Linda Giudice, explained the possible link between hormones and breast cancer.

“The development of breast cancer is linked to estrogen exposure and the longer one is exposed, the greater the risk. In an IVF cycle there is a short, but significant elevation in circulating estrogen, and whether this is linked to the observations found in the study is not clear at this time.”

Giudice did state that further studies should be conducted on this subject to truly know if a link exists between IVF and breast cancer.

Now let’s discuss what the new study reveals. Researchers in the Netherlands have conducted a study on thousands of people between 1980 and 1985 who have undergone IVF.

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The study was said to be inconclusive and no link was found between breast cancer and IVF. The new study reveals a 2.9 percent breast cancer rate for those who did not undergo IVF treatment and three percent for those who did, revealing no increased risk.

Stewart felt positive towards the final result of the study.

“These findings are consistent with the absence of a significant increase in the long-term risk of breast cancer among women treated with these IVF regimens.”

An interesting fact determined during the study is that women had a decreased risk of breast cancer who have had a poor response to IVF.

“If you are wanting to have a child then that’s really, really important and I wouldn’t let that cloud my judgment, I just think its really good to be informed.”

WebMD reports that further studies are needed to determine if breast cancer is linked to women who have undergone longer periods of IVF, but also agrees that there is little evidence to support that IVF raises a woman’s chance of breast cancer.

IVF does not raise breast cancer risk in women [Image via Shutterstock]Also mentioned, estrogen is raised for maybe a week after IVF, then the hormone returns to the normal level. With that being said, younger women who undergo IVF are not at a higher risk of developing breast cancer caused by estrogen.

Samantha Pfeifer, a doctor and a chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine committee, concludes that estrogen released during IVF is only elevated for a short period of time, thus unlikely to cause breast cancer.

“Estrogen levels are not significantly raised for a prolonged period of time.”

The new study released certainly sheds light on a very concerning subject for many women.

[Image via Shutterstock]