IVF is not a cause of cancer, study says

Xavier Symons
2 March 2013
Reproduced with Permission

A new study has found that IVF does not increase a women's likelihood of developing breast or endometrial cancer.

The study, completed by researchers from the US and Israel and published in Fertility and Sterility, involved data from 67,608 Israeli women who underwent IVF treatment from 1994 to 2011, and 19,795 women who sought treatment but never received it.

The researchers linked this data to a national cancer registry, and found that there was no difference in women's chances of being diagnosed with breast or endometrial cancer based on whether they were treated with IVF.

The researchers did find a woman's risk of ovarian cancer slightly increased the more rounds of treatment she received. But that finding could have been due to chance. Author Louise Brinton said her study was too small to conclusively link IVF and ovarian cancer - this particular cancer remained very rare, with 45 cases in the entire study.

Dr Sherman Silber of the Infertility Center of St. Louis warned these types of studies have several variables that could make it difficult to analyse the results.

"You have to be extraordinarily cautious about this kind of a study," Silber told Reuters Health. "If anything, it's reassuring. One doesn't see any real increase in cancer."

Researchers conceded that further studies are needed, with larger groups of IVF-treated women, to identify the long-term risks of IVF.