In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a tricky procedure, but one that women often turn to in hopes of getting pregnant. The method tends to send your sex hormones into overdrive—often raising them five to 10 times the normal level—to increase the odds of implantation after embryos are inserted into your uterus. That process, although sometimes effective, always comes with risk. Not only could it not be successful (though more than 5 million babies have been born worldwide through IVF, according to the New York Times), but research has drawn a potential connection between IVF and an increased risk of breast cancer. So, basically, it was thought that by prepping your body for a baby, you could be putting your life at risk.
Not anymore. A new study published in JAMA just debunked the biggest IVF myth out there, providing plenty of proof (the study tracked more than 25,000 women) that those undergoing fertility treatment do not subject themselves to a higher risk of breast cancer than the average woman.
Can we get a halle-freakin-lujah?
The study, which looked at women in the Netherlands who received IVF or other less-intensive fertility treatments at the average age of 33, spanned 21 years to see whether women developed breast cancer—and if those who did got it because of anything associated with their treatments. While 839 of the 25,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer (and another 109 had noninvasive breast cancer), there wasn't any connection found between their diagnoses and their fertility treatment.
What's better: The study also found that women who went through seven or more cycles of IVF had actually had lower rates of breast cancer development than participants who underwent just one or two cycles. Talk about flipping to the other side of the spectrum.
Of course, this doesn't mean that women who have IVF are not going to get breast cancer. It can develop at any time. Because of that fact—and because IVF protocols are different today from what they were when these subjects received treatment between 1980 and 1995—an American Cancer Society representative told the NYT that this data isn't conclusive. Still, she gave props to the researchers, saying they added a "significant amount of evidence that there is no link between IVF and breast cancer." Plus, the researchers recruited an additional 10,000 Dutch women who have received treatment following the latest protocols, says the NYT, and their health will be tracked as well.
That, my friends, is exactly what a woman who desperately wants to have a baby wants to hear. Consider this procedure one that is definitely on the fertility table.