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Researchers find strong link between IVF usage and increased breast cancer risk


Danish researchers found that in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer. In the annual meeting for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, the researchers said that women who had a fertility treatment were up to 65 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not receive a fertility procedure. The association is most pronounced in middle-aged women.

The finding, according to the researchers, may be explained by the presence of powerful drugs used to stimulate women’s ovaries so they can produce more eggs.

IVF linked to breast cancer

IVF is a medical procedure in which a fertilized egg is inserted into a woman’s womb to assist with the conception of a child. It was previously linked to the development of ovarian tumors, birth defects and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. However, studies that link IVF to breast cancer are few.

For their study, the researchers tracked more than 600,000 women in Denmark between 1994 and 2015. Nearly 60,000 of these women received fertility treatment, including IVF.

After comparing the data of these women to that of women who did not go through a fertility procedure, the researchers found that those who received fertility treatment had a 10 percent higher risk of breast cancer than the latter group of women. The finding was more pronounced in women aged 40 and above, registering a 65 percent higher risk of breast cancer after receiving a fertility procedure.

One explanation for this stronger association is that older women may sometimes need a higher dose of drugs to better stimulate their ovaries and increase estrogen levels. While estrogen is needed by all women to be able to grow eggs, high levels of the hormone are linked to breast cancer, especially after menopause.

Fertility expert Dr. Geeta Nargund of St George’s Hospital in London, who was not part of the study, said that the findings serve as a “wake-up call about the use of high dose stimulation in IVF, especially in women over the age of 40.”

“We must act now as a precaution,” Nargund added. (Related: IVF treatment proven to increase risk of birth defects in children.)

Dr. Jane Stewart, chair of the British Fertility Society, also said that fertility specialists should not be complacent about the long-term effects of modern fertility treatment. She said: “Previous studies have been reassuring [regarding] breast cancer [risk] but clearly the discussion is not closed.”

Boosting fertility the natural way

Around one in eight American couples find it difficult to conceive a child. Fortunately, there are natural ways to boost fertility: (h/t to Healthline.com)

  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants – Antioxidants like folate and zinc may boost fertility. These deactivate the free radicals in your body, which can otherwise damage your egg cells.
  • Avoid trans fats –  Trans fats are linked to an increased risk of ovulatory infertility. Trans fats are commonly found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, fried foods and processed food.
  • Cut down on carbs if you have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) – PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. Research shows that managing your carb intake can improve some aspects of PCOS, such as weight gain and irregular periods.
  • Swap protein sources – Replacing animal proteins like red meat with vegetable protein sources, such as beans, nuts and seeds, is linked to a reduced risk of infertility.
  • Get active – Research shows that increasing moderate physical activity has positive effects on fertility, especially in obese women.
  • Avoid stress – Stress triggers hormonal changes that decrease your chances of getting pregnant.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Being either underweight or overweight is linked to increased infertility.
  • Take natural supplements – Animal studies suggest that natural supplements like maca can increase fertility.

Conceiving a child does not come easy for a lot of couples. Opt for these natural options to keep yourself and your child healthy.

Learn more natural ways to boost fertility at WomensHealth.news.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

MayoClinic.org

MaurerFoundation.org

Healthline.com

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