Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Font Size

Study Fails to Find Fertility Drug-Cancer Link

Fertility Drugs Not Associated With a Higher Risk of Ovarian Cancer
WebMD Health News

June 15, 2004 -- Taking fertility drugs does not appear to increase a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer, a new study from the National Cancer Institute suggests.

Researchers found no associations between the use of medications that stimulate ovulation and ovarian cancer in a study involving more than 12,000 women who had trouble conceiving. However, a slight increase in risk was seen among women followed for the longest time, but researchers say this increase may not be related to the use of fertility drugs.

"In general our findings are very reassuring," lead researcher Louise Brinton, PhD, tells WebMD. "We failed to confirm a major increase with the use of these drugs, but most of these women are still relatively young. For this reason, the association warrants further follow-up."

Early Findings Mixed

Since their introduction almost four decades ago, ovulation-stimulating drugs like Clomid have been prescribed to millions of infertile women. Previous studies assessing the impact of these drugs on ovarian cancer risk have been mixed, with one study suggesting up to a 27-fold increase in cancer risk among treated women who never got pregnant and other studies failing to find any link at all.

The NCI trial included 12,193 women who were seen at five infertility clinics throughout the country between 1965 and 1988. Of these, more than 4,000 women had used a fertility drug.

By 1999, 45 of the women had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which was almost twice the number expected in the general population.

But when the researchers adjusted for other ovarian cancer risk factors, the use of fertility drugs was not found to significantly increase cancer risk.

In other words, ovarian cancer risks were similar regardless of whether these women used fertility drugs or not.

Clomid users actually had slightly fewer ovarian cancers than would be expected in the general population, while users of the protein hormone gonadotropin had slightly more cancers.

Fifteen years after treatment, the odds of developing ovarian cancer more than doubled among the small group of gonadotropin users followed for many years.

"These women are only now beginning to reach the age range where ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed," Brinton says. "That is why it is important to continue following them."

Today on WebMD

Four pregnant women standing in a row
How much do you know about conception?
Couple with surrogate mother
Which one is right for you?
couple lying in grass holding hands
Why Dad's health matters.
couple viewing positive pregnancy test
6 ways to improve your chances.
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Conception Myths
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Charting Your Fertility Cycle
Fertility Specialist
Understanding Fertility Symptoms
invitro fertilization