Drug used to prevent miscarriages increases risk of cancer in offspring – sciencedaily


Exposure in utero to a drug used to prevent miscarriages may lead to an increased risk of developing cancer, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston).

The study was published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The drug, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-OHPC), is a synthetic progestin that was used frequently by women in the 1950s and 1960s, and is still prescribed to women today to help prevent premature births. Progesterone helps the uterus grow during pregnancy and prevents a woman from having early contractions that can lead to miscarriage.

“Children born to women who received the drug during pregnancy have double the rate of cancer during their lifetime compared to children born to women who did not take this drug,” said Caitlin C. Murphy, PhD, MPH, senior author on and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston. “We have seen cancers like colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and many more increase in people born in the 1960s and after, and no one really knows why.”

Researchers looked at data from the Kaiser Foundation’s Health Plan on women who received antenatal care between June 1959 and June 1967, and the California Cancer Registry, which traced cancer in offspring to 2019.

Out of more than 18,751 live births, the researchers found that 1,008 cancer diagnoses were made in children between the ages of 0 and 58. In addition, a total of 234 offspring were exposed to 17-OHPC during gestation. Offspring exposed in the womb had cancer detected in adulthood more than twice as often as offspring not exposed to the drug – 65% of cancers occurred in adults under the age of 50.

“Our results suggest that taking this drug during pregnancy may disrupt early development, which may increase the risk of cancer decades later,” Murphy said “With this drug we see the effects of a synthetic hormone . Things that have happened to us in the womb, or exposures in utero, are important risk factors for developing cancer decades after we are born. “

A new randomized trial shows that there is no benefit to taking 17-OHPC and that it does not reduce the risk of preterm labor, according to Murphy.

The United States Food and Drug Administration proposed in October 2020 that this particular drug be taken off the market.

This work was supported by two National Institutes of Health: the National Cancer Institute (R01CA242558) and the National Institute of Child Health and Development (HHSN275201100020C).

Additional authors include Piera M. Cirillo, MPH; Nickilou Y. Krigbaum, MPH; and Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, all with studies in child health and development at the Institute of Public Health.

Source of the story:

Material provided by University of Texas at Houston Health Sciences Center. Original written by Jeannette Sanchez. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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