The journal Human Reproduction has published a study entitled Cancer Risk in Infertile Women: Analysis of US Claims Data. This research shows a link between infertility and increased cancer, although it cannot specify whether infertility itself, the causes of infertility or the treatment administered for medically assisted reproduction is to be blamed.
To reach these conclusions, the team followed up more than 64,000 women with fertility problems over a four-year period, and compared them to 3.1 million women with no fertility problems. About 2% of sub-fertile women were diagnosed with cancer, compared to 1.7% in the other group: “one in 49 infertile women reportedly developed cancer during the follow-up period, compared to one in 59 women among non-infertile women”. A more precise examination showed that infertile women have a 78% additional risk of developing uterine cancer, a 64% additional risk of developing ovarian cancer, and an additional 59% risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
The researchers explained that sub-fertile women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) are exposed to treatment that alters their hormone levels and balances; these changes may be involved in cancer development. In addition, infertility may have a genetic origin that could increase the risk of mutations and cancer.
The authors believe that further research, especially long-term, is needed.