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Hormone in artificial insemination promotes ovarian cancer
If hormones are injected as part of an artificial insemination, this represents a significant intervention in the hormonal balance, which apparently significantly increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
As scientists from the Netherland Cancer Institute in Amsterdam found in a recent study, hormone stimulation to stimulate the ovaries before artificial insemination increases the risk of ovarian tumors, especially so-called borderline tumors. Although the likelihood of benign or malignant ovarian tumors remains very low, hormone treatment is associated with an increased risk of disease by more than 60 percent, the researchers report in the current issue of the journal "Human Reproduction".
Increased borderline tumors after hormone treatments In particular, the so-called borderline tumors are significantly more common in women who have received hormone treatment as part of an artificial insemination than in women who have not had appropriate hormone administration, according to the research team led by Flora van Leeuwen from the Netherland Cancer Institute. Borderline tumors form a special form of ovarian cancer in which the tissue cannot be clearly identified as benign or malignant. The tissue changes, also known as border tumors, should not be underestimated, however, according to the renowned expert in reproductive medicine, Professor Michael Ludwig from Hamburg. Professor Ludwig emphasized that "borderline tumors are often bilateral and require surgery", which means "usually an ovary removal". Overall, however, the risk of corresponding tumor diseases is also relatively low among women who opted for "in vitro fertilization" (IVF) with hormone treatment after the desire to have children has not been met, the experts explained. The hormone injection to stimulate the ovaries is used to increase the number of eggs in order to enable artificial insemination. The treatment always represents a major intervention in the hormonal balance and has therefore long been suspected of possibly having negative health effects. Flora van Leeuwen and colleagues have now confirmed this suspicion in their current study.
Hormone therapy favors ovarian cancer As part of their research, the Dutch researchers analyzed the data from 19,146 women who were treated with hormones as part of an IVF between 1983 and 1995. In addition, 6,006 women who also had reduced fertility but had not received hormone treatment served as a control group. The result: The likelihood of ovarian cancer later in life increases with hormone therapy by more than 60 percent. However, the overall risk of disease at the age of 55 is relatively low at 0.45 percent in the control group and 0.71 percent in women who have had hormone treatment, explained Prof. Ludwig. According to Flora van Leeuwen and colleagues, after almost 15 years, tumors on the ovaries occurred in only 77 study participants, 61 of whom had undergone hormone treatment as part of an artificial insemination. Sixteen women with ovarian cancer were in the control group. According to the researchers, 42 of the tumor disease were identified as malignant cancer, 35 were classified as borderline tumors. For example, the Hamburg-based expert Prof. Ludwig confirmed that the risk of ovarian cancer due to hormone treatment is “not to be dismissed from the hand”.
As the team led by Flora van Leeuwen emphasized, their results point in a clear direction, but further studies are necessary to confirm and substantiate the findings to date. According to the Dutch researchers, it should also be borne in mind that the current study analyzed the effects of hormones (gonadotrophins) and IVF therapy until 1995, but since then milder methods for stimulating the ovaries have been introduced. According to Professor Ludwig, additional studies also need to clarify whether hormone treatment increases the risk of tumors or whether women with fertility problems already have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Because the current investigation had found no effects of an increased dose of the hormones or multiple artificial inseminations on the cancer risk. Therefore, according to Prof. Ludwig, it remains unclear whether only hormone treatment is responsible for the increased occurrence of ovarian tumors.
Taking ovarian cancer risk into account during artificial insemination According to experts such as Prof. Ludwig or Jenny Chang-Claude from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the results of the Dutch researchers should in any case be taken into account when dealing with patients who have had IVF in the future . Prof. Ludwig emphasized that long-term preventive examinations are urgently recommended for women after IVF therapy. This also applies to women who could not get pregnant for other health reasons, such as a closed fallopian tube, and decided against artificial insemination. A special ultrasound examination is used for the early diagnosis of tumors on the ovaries, but this is not covered by the statutory health insurance companies in Germany. For the IVF itself, however, the current investigation remains without consequences for the time being, the experts explained. Richard Kennedy of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) also came to this assessment, who also advocated continuous monitoring of the women concerned, but emphasized that the IFFS sticks to its view that "the long-term risks are low." Couples or women Those who have no option to witness a child in the normal way should always be aware of the risks of "in vitro fertilization" and also take into account the now discovered possible connections with the occurrence of ovarian tumors - even if they end up discard because of the desire to have children. (fp)
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