IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is a widely popular fertility treatment sought by couples who are having trouble conceiving naturally. IVF procedures are not without risks, and one of the most alarming concerns is the possibility of causing cancer. While there has been some speculation that IVF could be linked to cancer, studies have proven to debunk myths stating that IVF increases cancer risks. In this article, we take an in-depth look at the truth behind the claims and the resulting scientific research.
The Link Between IVF and Cancer
Several studies and publications have been made on the link between IVF and cancer. The most significant study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2019. The study followed over 200,000 women who sought IVF procedures over 21 years to determine if IVF led to a higher risk of cancer. What the study showed was that the possibility of ovarian or womb cancer was not heightened by IVF.
Another 2013 research published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute found no association between IVF and the risk of breast or uterine cancer in women. However, it suggested that a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer is possible in women who have undergone IVF procedures. The study stated that this increase is likely a result of underlying infertility problems rather than the IVF procedure itself.
Does Progesterone Affect the Risk of Cancer in IVF Treatment?
The use of progesterone in the IVF process has been a significant concern for raising the risk of cancer in women. Progesterone is a natural or synthetic hormone required for an embryo to implant in the uterus successfully. Despite its use in IVF procedures, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2019 confirmed that there was no increased risk of ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer in women who received progesterone as part of the IVF process.
What Causes the Slight Increase in Ovarian Cancer Risk?
As previously mentioned, a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer has been linked with women who have undergone IVF procedures. However, the increase is not a result of IVF itself; instead, it can be a result of underlying infertility issues. Women who undergo IVF procedures usually have conditions like endometriosis or infrequent ovulation, which increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Hence, it is essential to understand that IVF does not cause cancer, but underlying conditions increase cancer risks.
Risks Associated with IVF Procedures
While studies have confirmed that the possibility of cancer resulting from IVF procedures is not heightened, it doesn’t mean the treatments are fully risk-free. Here are some risks worth noting:
IVF medications that stimulate egg production can increase the likelihood of multiple pregnancies, which can contribute to a higher risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Multiple pregnancies can also increase the risk of complications in both the mother and babies.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
OHSS can occur when a woman’s ovaries are sensitive to the medications used in the IVF process, leading to a build-up of fluid causing discomfort in the abdomen, bloating and sometimes can be life-threatening.
IVF procedures can be a daunting experience, and it’s not uncommon for the stress to take its toll on the patient’s mental health, causing anxiety, depression or a feeling of isolation. Understanding the full scope of the procedure, treatments, and outcomes can make the patients better prepared for the process.
IVF treatments have come a long way since the first successful treatment in the late 1970s. All procedures carry risks, and IVF is no exception. While there has been some speculation that IVF could be linked to cancer, studies have shown that IVF does not increase the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer. While the risk of ovarian cancer is slightly increased, it’s likely due to underlying infertility rather than the IVF process itself. It’s essential to analyze the documented risks alongside the benefits of IVF when considering the procedure, and patients should always consult their doctors before undergoing any fertility treatment.
- Can IVF cause ovarian cancer?
- Can IVF cause breast cancer?
- Does the use of progesterone increase the risk of cancer?
- What are the risks of IVF procedures?
Studies suggest there is a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer in women who have undergone IVF. However, the risk is linked to underlying infertility rather than the IVF process itself.
There is no evidence to suggest that IVF increases the risk of breast cancer.
A study showed that there is no increased risk of ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer in women who received progesterone as part of the IVF process.
IVF procedures carry some risks, including multiple pregnancies, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and psychological distress.