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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Pregnancy Loss and Cancer Risk: A Nationwide Observational Study

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Background: Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Few studies have investigated if recurrent pregnancy loss is associated with an increased risk of cancer. We aimed to assess whether pregnancy loss is associated with later cancer development.

Methods: We identified all invasive cancers after age 40, among all Danish women born between January 1957 and December 1972, ensuring a full reproductive history. Cases were matched by birth year 1:10 to cancer-free controls. Women were followed until the end of 2017. The number of pregnancy losses (miscarriages or still births) was correlated to long-term cancer risk using conditional logistic regression, providing odds ratios for specific cancers with different numbers of pregnancy losses, all adjusted for age, education, and other potential confounders.

Findings: The study included 28,785 women with cancer (mean age 48.7 [SD 5.0]) and 283,294 matched controls (mean age 48.6 [SD 5.0]). We found no overall association between pregnancy loss and later development of 11 site-specific types of cancer or cancer overall. Taking the sequence of pregnancy losses into account, primary recurrent pregnancy loss (three consecutive pregnancy losses without prior live birth) was associated with later overall cancer by an odds ratio of 1.27 (1.04-1.56). Secondary recurrent pregnancy loss showed no association to cancer.

Interpretation: Pregnancy loss was not associated with later cancer development. Women with primary recurrent pregnancy loss had a borderline significant association to later cancer overall, this may be a chance finding.

Funding: Ole Kirk's Foundation and Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet's Research Grant.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEClinicalMedicine
Volume15
Pages (from-to)80-88
Number of pages9
ISSN2589-5370
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

ID: 58966840