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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Aug;21(8):1282-92. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0426. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Use of fertility drugs and risk of ovarian cancer: results from a U.S.-based case-control study.

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Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



Previous studies examining associations between use of fertility drugs and ovarian cancer risk have provided conflicting results. We used data from a large case-control study to determine whether fertility drug use significantly impacts ovarian cancer risk when taking into account parity, gravidity, and cause of infertility.


Data from the Hormones and Ovarian Cancer Prediction (HOPE) study were used (902 cases, 1,802 controls). Medical and reproductive histories were collected via in-person interviews. Logistic regression was used to calculate ORs and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Models were adjusted for age, race, education, age at menarche, parity, oral contraceptive use, breastfeeding, talc use, tubal ligation, and family history of breast/ovarian cancer.


Ever use of fertility drugs was not significantly associated with ovarian cancer within the total HOPE population (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.65-1.35) or among women who reported seeking medical attention for infertility (OR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.54-1.40). We did observe a statistically significant increased risk of ovarian cancer for ever use of fertility drugs among women who, despite seeking medical attention for problems getting pregnant, remained nulligravid (OR, 3.13; 95% CI, 1.01-9.67).


These results provide further evidence that fertility drug use does not significantly contribute to ovarian cancer risk among the majority of women; however, women who despite infertility evaluation and fertility drug use remain nulligravid, may have an elevated risk for ovarian cancer.


Our results suggest that fertility drug use does not significantly contribute to overall risk of ovarian cancer when adjusting for known confounding factors.

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