Do Fertility Drugs Increase the Risk of Women Getting Breast Cancer? It Depends!
There has been a growing concern that taking certain drugs over a period of time may increase a woman's risk for contracting breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy, the Paxil Drug category and birth control pills are among some of the drugs that have been researched and the possibility of an increased correlation between these drugs and breast cancer has been noted.
Another group of drugs about which there has been concern would be those classified as fertility drugs. A new study examines the risk created when the hormones altered by the drugs impact a woman's chemistry, especially after the drugs help her become pregnant. Prior studies which attempted to identify a link between fertility drugs and cancer have skewed all over the map with inconclusive results, showing increased or reduced risks for cancer and other studies showing no relationship between fertility drugs and cancer.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study (published on July 6th in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute) revealed the link between cancer risk and taking fertility drugs. The good news is that the drugs appear to reduce breast cancer risk in young women. The bad news is that the cancer risk increases when women taking the drugs become pregnant. But it is around the same risk level for those who became pregnant and didn't use the fertility drugs, which is to say that the likelihood of contracting breast cancer for users who became pregnant and non users who became pregnant is similar.
Researchers examined ovulation-stimulating drugs, which stimulate a woman's ovaries into hyper-ovulation, initiating her body to produce more eggs than can potentially be fertilized. The concern has been that additional eggs increase the levels of estrogen in a woman's body. Estrogen is a hormone that has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer rates.
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Examiners studied pairs of sisters, conducting a sister-matched case-control study. The investigation partly funded by Susan Komen for the Cure and referred to as the Two Sister Study (which was developed from the Sister Study), looked at women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50 years and their breast cancer-free control sisters, who were studied between September 2008-December 2010.