Women having children via IVF may be at greater risk of breast cancer

Women who have babies through IVF could be at greater risk of breast cancer, research suggests.

The study found those having children later in life were most in danger.

Women over 40 using fertility treatment to have their first child were 65% more likely to develop breast cancer.

Across all ages the treatment was linked to a 10% increased risk.

Fertility expert Professor Geeta Nargund, of St George’s Hospital in South London, said: “This is a wake-up call about the use of high dose stimulation in IVF… we must act now as a precaution.”

Doctors think the apparent extra risk could be down to powerful IVF drugs triggering the body to produce more oestrogen, a hormone which can encourage cancer cells to grow.

The 21-year study by Copenhagen University in Denmark tracked 59,000 woman who underwent fertility treatment.

They were compared with 567,000 age-matched women who gave birth without the treatment.

Even with the raised breast cancer risk, the overall likelihood was still small.

The research has been published at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria.

ESHRE chairman Roy Farquharson said: “This is an interesting preliminary finding but shouldn’t alarm people.”

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