TV personality Giuliana Rancic has breast cancer. The 36 year old made the announcement this week, saying it was caught early and she hopes for a full recovery. Rancic has been going through well-documented fertility treatments for some time, and said her specialist insisted on a mammogram before going through another. This is when the cancer was found.
She said her specialist insisted on the mammogram because if she did have cancer, the hormones used in fertility treatments could worsen the disease. Her statements made some women worried that IVF treatments could accelerate, or even cause, cancer.
While it's true that high levels of estrogen are linked with cancer, experts don't believe that drugs involved with the IVF process are part of that link. In fact, there may be preventive aspects.
According to an article from the health section of MSNBC.com, Adrian V. Lee, from the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh’s Magee-Womens Research Institute stated that “...the evidence is that IVF has no effect or lowers incidence. The largest study in Sweden -- of 25,000 women who had IVF compared to 1.4 million without -- showed a 25 percent reduction in breast cancer and a 40 percent reduction in cervical cancer in those who had IVF.”
Doctors also warn about mammograms too early in life. Only five percent of breast cancer cases are with women under forty and mammograms cause radiation in the body. Breast self-exams at this age are a better option for women under the age of forty, who have no family history or cancer.
The Today Show featured Dr. Nancy Snyderman recently who agreed that there is no link between IVF and an increased risk of cancer. Seen in a link from MSNBC, she told the interviewer that "there's no known cause and effect. What we do know is that women who are older usually ask for IVF because they're having a harder time getting pregnant -- and women who are older have a higher chance of getting breast cancer, so there is an age relation, but not a hormonal relation."
EmpowHER lists risk factors for breast cancer as:
• Sex: female, although men can also get breast cancer
• Age: 50 or older