Infertility may be predict a risk of cancer

Women with a history of fertility problems appear to run the risk of developing certain cancers, a new study suggests.

In a look-back study, Dr. Louise A. Brinton, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, compared the risk of cancer among 12,193 U.S. women treated for infertility between 1965 and 1988 with that of the general population.

Over an average period of nearly 19 years, the infertility patients had a 23 percent higher likelihood of developing cancer than women in the general population, the team reports in the medical journal Epidemiology.

The cancer risk was higher among women with primary infertility than among those with fertility problems related to other conditions. For patients with primary infertility, the chances of developing uterine or ovarian cancers was especially high, at more than twice the normal risk.

“Our findings are consistent with several investigations that have found higher ovarian cancer risks among patients with fallopian tube dysfunction or pelvic inflammatory disease,” Brinton’s team explains. They say this lends support to the notion that inflammation is an important factor in Ovarian cancer.

SOURCE: Epidemiology, July 2005.

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Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD