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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Feb 1;169(3):365-75. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn318. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Cancer risk after exposure to treatments for ovulation induction.

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Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hadassah-Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


Uncertainty continues as to whether treatments for ovulation induction are associated with increased risk of cancer. The authors conducted a long-term population-based historical cohort study of parous women. A total of 15,030 women in the Jerusalem Perinatal Study who gave birth in 1974-1976 participated in a postpartum survey. Cancer incidence through 2004 was analyzed using Cox's proportional hazards models, controlling for age and other covariates. Women who used drugs to induce ovulation (n = 567) had increased risks of cancer at any site (multivariate hazard ratio (HR) = 1.36, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06, 1.74). An increased risk of uterine cancer was found among women treated with ovulation-inducing agents (HR = 3.39, 95% CI: 1.28, 8.97), specifically clomiphene (HR = 4.56, 95% CI: 1.56, 13.34). No association was noted between use of ovulation-inducing agents and ovarian cancer (age-adjusted HR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.08, 4.42). Ovulation induction was associated with a borderline-significant increased risk of breast cancer (multivariate HR = 1.42, 95% CI: 0.99, 2.05). Increased risks were also observed for malignant melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These associations appeared stronger among women who waited more than 1 year to conceive. Additional follow-up studies assessing these associations by drug type, dosage, and duration are needed.

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