Today we are continuing our coverage of the scientific correlation, or lack thereof, between infertility treatments and cancer. We’ve recently put out two blogs discussing new scientific examinations of hormonal stimulation and breast and ovarian cancer. A third study has just been published on the roles of three important hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), on breast cancer cell growth.

In the paper, “Impact of infertility regimens on breast cancer cells: follicle-stimulating hormone and leuteinizing hormone lack a direct effect on breast cell proliferation in vitro,” researchers examined how FSH, LH, and hCG affect the growth and proliferation of multiple breast cancer cell lines in the laboratory. These three hormones are used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to stimulate the development of a woman’s follicles, which are then removed and fertilized with sperm.

The authors, Boukaidi, Cooley, Hardy, Matthews, Zelivianski, and Jeruss, examined how breast cancer cell lines in a 3D culture system responded to the three hormones.  The found that, when treated with individual hormones, neither the growth nor division of breast cancer cells were altered. In addition, one of the cell lines did respond to a combination of FSH and hCG, which caused decreased cell division and size. This result provides evidence that FSH, LH, and hCG may not directly increase breast cancer risk during infertility treatments.

Future studies will be needed to further explore the effects of additional factors, such as estrogen, on breast cancer growth and proliferation. Read the full article in Fertility and Sterility.