Ovulation-stimulation drugs and cancer risks: a long-term follow-up of a British cohort

Br J Cancer. 2009 Jun 2;100(11):1824-31. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605086. Epub 2009 May 12.


To assess long-term health effects of ovarian-stimulation drugs we followed-up for over 20 years a British cohort of 7355 women with ovulatory disorders, 43% of whom were prescribed ovarian-stimulation drugs, and identified a total of 274 deaths and 367 incident cancers. Relative to the general population, the cohort experienced lower mortality from most causes, including from all neoplasms combined, and lower incidence of cervical cancer, but higher incidence of cancers of the breast (relative risk: 1.13; 95% CI 0.97, 1.30) and corpus uteri (2.02; 1.37, 2.87). There were, however, no significant differences in the risk of cancers of the breast, corpus uteri, ovary, or of any other site, between women who had been prescribed ovarian-stimulation drugs and those who had not. Further analyses by type of drug and dose revealed a dose-response gradient in the risk of cancer of the corpus uteri (P for linear trend=0.03), with women given >or=2250 mg of clomiphene having a 2.6-fold (2.62; 0.94, 6.82) increase in risk relative to those who were not treated. These findings do not support strong associations between ovulation-stimulation drugs and cancer risks, but they indicate the need for continued monitoring to establish whether risks are elevated in certain subgroups of users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fertility Agents, Female / adverse effects*
  • Fertility Agents, Female / pharmacology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovulation / drug effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Fertility Agents, Female