Abortion & Breast Cancer

[Collection of Articles on the Web]

"Neglecting to inform women of the link between abortion and breast cancer could mean thousands of them pay the price with their lives."  Concerned Women for America


tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Coalition on Abortion and Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Real Statistics on Abortion and Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)The Breast Cancer Connection
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CWA Summary on Abortion-Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)1998 Wisconsin Law Review on Disclosure Duty
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Abortion Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Abortion-Breast Cancer Studies, 1981-1996
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Politics of Breast Cancer Research
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Why the Silence About Abortion and Breast Cancer: Chicago Tribune; May 21, 2001
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Abortion & Breast Cancer FAQ-Chris Kahlenborn, MD
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Link between Abortion and Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Dr. Janet Daling on Abortion-Breast Cancer
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Additional Evidence of Abortion-Cancer: J. Brind, Ph.d.
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)World Conference on Cancer: July 1997
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Testimony before Food & Drug Administration: July 1996
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Additional Breast Cancer Studies: S. Summerville
tballR321.gif (321 bytes)Return to Teen Pregnancy Home Page

 


Abortion and Breast Cancer Statistics

Dr. Janet Daling is a cancer researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. Dr. Daling is self-described as 'pro-choice'. On 2 November 1994 Dr. Daling and fellow researchers published an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (pp. 1584-1592) concerning induced abortion and breast cancer risk for premenopausal women. Some key findings:

  1. Women under age 18 who had an induced abortion have an increased breast cancer risk of 150%.
  2. Women of age 30 and above who aborted a first pregnancy increase their breast cancer risk by 110%.
  3. Overall, women who have an induced abortion have an increased breast cancer risk of 50%.

The Journal of the National Medical Association is a publication by black medical professionals concerned with black health problems. In the December 1993 issue JNMA published the results of a Howard University study. Key finding:

Black women of age 50 and above who had at least 1 induced abortion have an increased breast cancer risk of 370%.

Mike Richmond
Cancer Awareness Canada
810 W. Broadway (651)
Vancouver, Canada V5Z 4C9


Home Library
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT
Wendy Wright
(202) 488-7000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 1999

Race for Cure

Should Include Attention to Prevention

Regardless of where one stands on abortion, for the sake of women’s lives the medical facts can not be ignored.

Washington, D.C.—Race for the Cure takes place tomorrow to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. But its purpose will be incomplete if it does not include information on one of the scientifically proven causes of breast cancer: abortion.

Nearly 200,000 women suffer from breast cancer—more than twice the number of women infected with AIDS. Clearly, breast cancer is a serious women’s health issue. But it is irresponsible to focus solely on cures when solid proof for prevention is available.

Researchers have uncovered a link between breast cancer and abortion in studies conducted in the United States, Japan, Denmark, Italy and Russia. One study showed that women who had one or two abortions before a full-term pregnancy doubled their risk, while women who had three or more abortions tripled their risk. Similar conclusions were found from studies conducted in the U.S., Israel, Canada, France, Denmark and Japan.

"I would liked to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It’s not a matter of believing, it’s a matter of what is."

—Dr. Janet Daling (who is pro-choice) of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who has reached the conclusion linking breast cancer to abortion

Neglecting to inform women of the link between abortion and breast cancer could mean thousands of them pay the price with their lives.


AMERICAN ABORTION-BREAST CANCER STUDIES*

STUDY

INCREASE IN RISK

Pike et al. 1981 137%
Brinton et al. 1983 20%
Rosenberg et al. 1988 20%**
Howe et al. 1989 90%**
Moseson 1993 0%***
Laing et al. 1993 210%**
Laing et al. 1994 144%**
Daling et al. 1994 50%**
Daling et al. 1996 20%**
Newcomb et al. 1996 23%**
Palmer et al. 1996 20%**

* Dr. Joel Brind, Abortion-Breast Cancer Quarterly Update 3 (1997).

** The results of these studies are statistically significant.

*** Although the Moeseson study does not indicate an increased risk of breast cancer associated with induced abortion, neither does the study indicate a decreased risk; rather the study reports no effect.

Due to the research studies' design variations, the percentage of risk increase will differ from study to study; thus, the opponents may claim that the results are "inconsistent."  The reality, as evidenced above, is that 10 out of these 11 American studies consistently report an increased risk of breast cancer associated with a woman having an induced abortion.  For more information concerning these studies, contact Americans United for Life or Dr. Joel Brind.


Abortion & Breast Cancer FAQ

by Chris Kahlenborn, MD

Why would a woman who has an induced abortion before her firstborn child suffer an increased risk of breast cancer?

A woman's breast is especially sensitive to carcinogenic (i.e., cancer producing) influence before she delivers her first child. When a woman becomes pregnant, a number of hormone levels increase dramatically in her body. Three especially notable ones are estradiol, progesterone (i.e., the female hormones), and B-hCG (Beta-human Chorionic Gonadotropin). All of these hormones, especially the latter, serve to stimulate immature breast cells to mature into fully differentiated cells [145A]. If this process gets artificially interrupted, by way of an induced abortion, the hormone levels drop dramatically thereby suspending the natural process of maturation of many of the woman's breast cells. This is referred to as a "hormonal blow" by researchers. These cells are now "vulnerable" to carcinogens since they were left "in limbo": that is, they started the maturation process, but were never able to complete it. [Cells that have fully matured are less vulnerable to carcinogens than cells that are in the process of maturation].

Do any animal models support the claim that early abortions increase breast cancer risk?

Yes. Russo and Russo, in their classic work published in 1980 [144], studied several groups of rats which were given a specific carcinogen (cancer producing agent) called DMBA. They noted that 77% of rats who underwent an abortion developed breast cancer, while 0% [zero] of the rats who were allowed to complete their pregnancy developed cancer.

Could you tell me about the history of the abortion/breast cancer debate?

As early as 1957, Segi et al noted that women who had induced abortions had at least a two-fold risk in their rate of breast cancer [148]. In 1981, Pike et al published their notable work showing that young women (under age 32) who had experienced an abortion before their first live birth had a 140% increased risk of breast cancer. A number of studies followed but finally in 1994, Daling et al [103] published a large study which noted that women who had an abortion before first birth suffered a 40% increased risk, and that this increased to 150% if the abortion was before age 18.

Finally, in 1996, in what is openly regarded as the most meticulously comprehensive meta-analysis (i.e. a synthesis of all the major studies done in a particular field concluding in an overall risk for the pooled studies) of all the abortion/breast cancer research articles ever done, Brind et al [98] found that women who had an abortion before their first term child had a 50% increased of developing breast cancer while women who had an abortion after their first child sustained a 30% increased risk.

If Dr. Brind et al's study was so conclusive, then why is the subject still being debated?

That is a good question. Because of the controversy regarding abortion, Dr. Brind's study came under intense scrutiny, however, the results seemed irrefutable. Janet Daling -- a prominent epidemiologist (a researcher who studies trends in the medical field) -- was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as stating that Brind et al's results were "very objective and statistically beyond reproach." [104A] Then in early 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEIM) published the results of a large prospective study by Melbye et al [128] which claimed to show that abortion did not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Was there any problem with the study by Melbye?

Yes. It is astonishing that the NEJM allowed it to be published in its submitted form. It had several glaring problems that have been pointed out in a follow up letter to the NEJM [128A]. The main ones include the following:

 

  1. Melbye's data actually pointed to a 44% increased risk of breast cancer due to abortion, but they never printed this result;
  2. The follow-up period for the "controls" was less than 10 years, while it was over 20 years for the "cases" (i.e. women who had an induced abortion). A follow-up period of less than ten years is not long enough to show the effect of an abortion;
  3. Over 30,000 women in the study who had abortions were "misclassified" as not having them -- thus 30,000 women were counted as not having abortions, when in fact they really had abortions;
  4. The study did note that women who had an abortion after the 12th week sustained a 38% increased risk of breast cancer, while women who had late term abortions (i.e. after 18 weeks) had a statistically significant increase of 89% -- both of these results received little media attention.

 

Dr. Melbye claimed that his study did not suffer from "recall bias". What did he mean by this?

Some researchers have claimed that "retrospective studies" suffer from "recall bias". They claim that women who have breast cancer are more likely to be truthful about the fact that they had an induced abortion than women who do not have breast cancer.

(An example of a retrospective study is one in which women with breast cancer would be interviewed and asked questions about their risk factors such as family history, induced abortion etc.)

On what basis do such researchers make such a claim?

This claim of recall bias is based on a study by Linderfors Harris et al [125] from Sweden. She compared the responses of "cases" and "controls" to the national register which reportedly keeps a record of all women who had an abortion. She noted that of the "cases" and "controls" who reportedly had an abortion as per the register, only 79% (19 of 24) of "cases" (i.e. the women who had breast cancer) and 73% (43 of 59) of "controls" admitted to having an abortion when they were interviewed. Thus, both groups tended to underreport abortions, but Linderfor-Harris noted that controls did so more often.

Where there any problems with the Linderfors Harris study?

Yes. The study noted that 7 of the 26 "cases" who stated that they had an early abortion, actually did not, according to the national register! This implies that 7 women out of 26, or 27% of the "cases" who stated that they had an early abortion, lied and said they did not! Obviously, this undermines the credibility of the study.

[Editor's note: As Brind has pointed out, this study assumed that if a woman's statement in an interview contradicted the register, she must be lying. An obvious alternative possibility is that the register is not 100% accurate.]

Is there any way to get around the "recall bias" problem?

Actually there is a fairly direct way to "get around it" and that is to measure it. Researchers did this already in the oral contraceptive and breast cancer debate in which some researchers claimed that women with breast cancer would be more honest about their history of oral contraceptive use. A number of studies refuted this claim by going back to a woman's medical records and compared the results of her interview response to that of the written record; all three of the studies that did this found less than a 2% difference between "case" and "control" responses [8, 26].

Can the same technique be used on the debate in regards to abortion and breast cancer?

Absolutely. Most good obstetricians and gynecologists obtain a thorough medical history of their patients especially on their initial visit. A standard question would be to ask a woman how many miscarriages and/or induced abortions she had. If one wished to measure the degree of "recall bias" between "cases" and "controls", one would simply have to compare their oral responses to that of the written medical record-any degree of bias could be recorded and accounted for.

This seems so basic-why has it not been done?

That is a good question. A more cynical question is: Has it been done already, without being reported, for fear of going against the "medically correct" establishment?

Do women who have used oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) early in life or had an early abortion develop more aggressive breast cancers?

Yes, Olsson et al has noted [92]: "these results indicate that the rate of tumor cell proliferation [i.e. rate of growth of cancer cells] is higher in patients with breast cancer who have used oral contraceptives at an early age or who at a young age have had an early abortion...".

Do miscarriages carry the same risk as induced abortion?

Women whose pregnancies end in miscarriage usually do not experience the same increase in estradiol and progesterone (the female hormones) levels that a healthy pregnancy would result in. Therefore, when a woman experiences a miscarriage, there is a less dramatic shift in hormone levels and less of a "hormonal blow" to the breast. Studies have shown that miscarriages, in general, have less of a risk than induced abortions, however, several studies show that miscarriages before a full term birth may still carry a significant risk, e.g. Pike [138]: 140% increased risk; Brinton [101]: 90% increase; Hadjimichael [107]: 250% increase; Ewertz [106]: 163% increase; and Rookus [141]: 40% increase.

Is the prognosis of a pregnant woman who currently has breast cancer improved if she has an induced abortion?

No. Clark and Chua noted that: "Those [pregnant women with breast cancer] undergoing a therapeutic abortion had a poorer prognosis compared to a live birth and even a spontaneous abortion." [93] King et al. obtained a similar result. "... patients who had termination of the pregnancy had a five year survival rate of 43 percent, whereas patients who underwent mastectomy and who went to term had a five year survival of 59 percent." [94].

What should women be told in general about early abortion and the risk of breast cancer?

Women who have an elective abortion before their firstborn baby suffer at least a 50% increased risk in breast cancer according to the best meta-analysis done to date. The risks are almost certainly higher for women who have had an abortion before age 18, or those who have additional risk factors, such as a positive family history or use of oral contraceptives before first birth.

References:

145A Russo J, Russo IH. Toward a physiological approach to breast cancer prevention. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 1994; 3:353-364.

144 Russo J. Tay TK, et al. Differentiation of the mammary gland and susceptibility to carcinogenesis. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. 1982; 2:5-73.

148 Segi M, et al. An epidemiological study on cancer in Japan. GANN. 1957; 48:1-63.

103 Daling J, Malone K, et al. Risk of breast cancer among young women: relationship to induced abortion. JNCI. 1994; 86:1584-1592.

98 Brind J, Chinchilli M, et al. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J. Epi. and Comm. Health. 10/ 1996; 50:481-496.

104A Lagnado L. Study on abortion and cancer spurs fight. Wall Street Journal. Oct. 11, 1996.

128 Melbye M, Wohlfahrt J, et al. Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. NEJM. 1997; 336:81-85.

128A Brind J et al. Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. NEJM. 1997; 336:1834.

125 Linderfors Harris BM, Eklund G, et al. Response bias in a case-control study: analysis utilizing comparative data concerning legal abortions from two independent Swedish studies. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1991; 134:1003-1008.

8 Chilvers C, McPherson K, et al. Oral contraceptive use and breast cancer risk in young women {UK National Case-Control Study Group}. The Lancet. May 6, 1989: 973-982.

26 Rookus MA, Leeuwen FE. Oral contraceptives and risk of breast cancer in women ages 20-54 years. Lancet. 1994; 344:844-851.

92 Olsson H, Ranstam J, et al. Proliferation and DNA ploidy in malignant breast tumors in relation to early contraceptive use and early abortions. Cancer. 1991; 67:1285-1290.

138 Pike MC, Henderson BE, et al. Oral contraceptive use and early abortion as risk factors for breast cancer in young women. British Journal of Cancer. 1981; 43:72-76.

101 Brinton LA, Hoover R. et al. Reproductive factors in the aetiology of breast cancer. British J. Med. 1983; 47:757-762.

107 Hadjimichael OC, et al. Abortion before first livebirth and risk of breast cancer. British J. of Cancer. 1986; 53:281-284.

106 Ewertz M, Duffy SW. Risk of breast cancer in relation to reproductive factors in Denmark. British J. of Cancer. 1988; 58:99-104.

141 Rookus M, Leeuwen F. Induced abortion and risk for breast cancer: reporting (recall) bias in a Dutch case-control study. JNCI. 1996; 88:1759-1764.

166 Staffa JA, Newschaffer CJ, et al. Progestins and breast cancer: an epidemiologic review. Fertility and Sterility. 1992; 57:473-491.

93 Clark RM, Chua T. Breast cancer and pregnancy: the ultimate challenge. Clinical Oncology. 1989; 1:11-18

13 Lee HP, Gourley L, et al. Risk factors for breast cancer by age and menopausal status: a case control study in Singapore. Cancer Causes and Control. 1992; 3:313-322.

94 King RM, Welch JS, et al. Carcinoma of the breast associated with pregnancy. Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics. 1985; 160:228-232.

231 Adam SA, Sheaves JK, et al. A case-control study of the possible association between oral contraceptives and malignant melanoma. British J. of Cancer. 1981; 41:45-50.


[From the Catholic Information Service]

NEW STUDIES SHOW A LINK BETWEEN BREAST CANCER AND ABORTIONS

Cases of breast cancer, now considered by some to be in epidemic
proportions, have tripled in number since 1960. The environment hasn't
changed much and only two factors are different. One is the
availability of the birth control pill and the other is the fact that
abortions have been made available and legal. Obviously today, there
are millions of abortions every year whereas in 1960, there were very
few abortions.

Society is more comfortable with blaming the oral contraceptive
pills. But, as Mark Crutcher points out, in LIME 5, that theory gets to
be problematic if one considers that breast cancer has also tripled in
incidence among Russian women where only abortion (not the pill) has
been easily obtainable in the last twenty years. The finger seems to
point more and more, at abortion as the culprit.

In October, a controversial set of statistics were published in the
British Medical Association's journal of Epidemiology and Community
Health. Dr Joel Brind, one of the four authors of the article,
expressed his feelings that the link between abortion and breast cancer
is clear enough that women considering abortions should be warned about
this risk before they have the procedure done. Dr Brind is a professor
of endocrinology at Baruch College in New York City.

The article mentioned that the National Cancer Institute seems to
be minimizing the risk of breast cancer after abortions (this risk, by
the way, according to many studies, is increased after multiple
abortions). The Cancer Institute was quoted as stating:

"There is no evidence of a direct
relationship between breast cancer and
... abortion."

-- National Cancer Institute

Dr Brind and the other researchers concluded from their studies
that the National Cancer Institute was incorrect in this assumption.
Their article stated:

"The potential of induced abortions as a breast cancer
risk factor continues largely to be minimized," the
article said. "While the need for further research
cannot be denied ... there exists the more present need
for those in clinical practice to inform their patients
fully about what is already known."

The authors told the news services that abortions now account for
about 5000 cases of breast cancer in the United States yearly and this
number could reach 25,000 by the middle of the next century. They also
pointed out that women having miscarriages did not seem to suffer the
same risks of breast cancer that women who had abortions faced.

The Baruch-Penn State researchers collected data from 23 studies
involving 26,000 women with breast cancer and 35000 women without breast
cancer. They re-analyzed old data to ascertain how many women had had
abortions.

Two states, Montana and Mississippi, now require that women seeking
abortions be warned about the risk of breast cancer.


Dr. Janet Daling ... a Pro-choicer, Finds Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer

Critics who formerly dismissed the possibility of a causal relationship between induced abortion and breast cancer are increasingly on the defensive, largely as a consequence of the findings of a fascinating study.
This study did manage to be published in the November 2, 1994 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCl).

The exhaustive work of Dr. Janet Daling and her colleagues at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center examined the possible linkage between abortion and breast cancer. Funded by the National Cancer Institute and directed by a woman who describes herself as "Pro-choice," the study can hardly stand accused of coming at the issue with a pro-life tilt.

As expected, an accompanying editorial written by Dr. Lynn Rosenberg in the the same JNCI went out of its way to minimize and explain away the evidence which strongly supported the case that an induced abortion places women at a greater risk for breast cancer.

A number of factors contributed to making Dr. Daling's "Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship to Induced Abortion" a cross-roads in the debate over whether abortion increases a woman's chance of contracting breast cancer. These significant factors include:

1. The size of the study (1,806 women -- 845 women who had breast cancer were compared with a "control" group of 961 women who did not);

2. It’s thoroughness -- women were interviewed one-on-one in their homes for two hours;

3. Daling et. al.'s conclusion that a spontaneous abortion -- a miscarriage -- does not heighten the risk, putting the emphasis back where it belongs, on induced abortion.

4. The demonstration that the risk of developing breast cancer increased after an induced abortion, regardless of how old the mother was at the time of the abortion, how old the unborn child was, or whether the woman had given birth before.

What specifically did the Daling study show? Most media reports concentrated on the finding that, on the average, the chance of a woman having breast cancer before she turns 45 increases by 50 percent if she has had an abortion. But this heightened danger was dismissed in the accompanying JNCI editorial as "small in epidemiological terms."

If breast cancer were rare or abortion infrequent, this editorial counter would carry more weight. There are, however, 182,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year and 46,000 women die annually.
Add to this the roughly 1,530,000 abortions per year and this so-called "small" increased risk means a huge number of new cases of breast cancer.

For example, abortion aside, a woman today has roughly a 10 percent chance of contracting breast cancer in her lifetime.
But because every year so many women are having an abortion, even if the abortion decision increases the risk by one-half, or 50 percent (from 10 percent to 15 percent), in a few decades the results will be, at a minimum, an additional 40,000 cases of breast cancer every year.

But the Daling study contained even more frightening results, largely ignored by the media. If a woman had obtained her first abortion after age 30, her risk jumped by 110 percent. And if she had her first abortion before she turned 18, the likelihood of having breast cancer increased by 150 percent.
Worse yet, if she has a family history (mother, sister, aunt) of breast cancer and had a first abortion after age 30, her risk went up by 270 percent.
Most ominous of all were the results for women who had had an abortion before age 18 and who also had a family history of breast cancer. Twelve women in the Daling study fit that description. Every one of them had breast cancer!

Daling's study, however, only followed women into their forties. What about later in life? A path-breaking but vastly underreported study in the December 1993 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association traced the breast cancer experience of about 1,000 black women (500 with breast cancer, 500 without) as they grew older. "Breast Cancer Risk Factors in African-American Women: The Howard University Tumor Registry Experience" confirmed that the risks of breast cancer increased much more for women who had aborted than for those who had not.

This fine study found the same overall 50 percent increased risk factor for women under 40 who had aborted. But black women now in their 40s who had aborted experienced a 180 percent increased risk. The risk jumped to a whopping 370 percent for black women over 50 who had aborted.

We've always known that abortion is lethal to unborn babies; only of late has abortion's dangers to pregnant women become unmistakably clear as well.

Many press outlets and representatives of the Clinton administration have bent over backwards to hide the stark facts about abortion and breast cancer. However, with more studies "in the pipeline," it is only a matter of time and ongoing pro-life publicity before the truth wins out. In the meantime, thousands of women will die of breast cancer.


Abortion and Breast Cancer: Additional Evidence of Link
Somehow Not Appearing in Published Studies

By Joel Brind, Ph.D.
Source: 11/98 NRL News

People often ask me about the frustrations we run up against in trying to make the average person aware that there really is a link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link).

We do have the evidence, after all. Going back to 1957, an overwhelming majority of studies (25 out of 31 epidemiological studies worldwide, including 11 out of 12 in the U.S.) have shown a higher risk of breast cancer in women who have chosen abortion.

In response to such inquiries, I never hesitate to point out the bright side. It would be impossible to make the case at all were it not for the fact that there has been at least enough scientific integrity to allow so much evidence to find its way into the published medical literature. This is no small triumph.

Unfortunately, of late, there have been troubling signs that more evidence of the ABC link has managed somehow not to appear in published studies on breast cancer risk factors. This new absence is very significant, for it includes studies coming from prominent researchers publishing in prominent medical journals.

In 1996, I and my colleagues at the Penn State College of Medicine summarized all the ABC link data to date in a " Comprehensive review and meta-analysis," which was published in the British Medical Association's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. For purposes of this article, it's worth highlighting that we acknowledged the well known tendency to keep non-significant data in the proverbial "file drawer."

That is, studies which show no significant trends are less likely to be published than studies which do show significant trends. How does that relate to our meta-analysis which summed up data across published studies?

It raises the possibility that most studies might actually not show the ABC link, but they simply have not been published due to the "file drawer" effect. Following this argument, the emergence of a significant ABC link from a meta-analysis of published studies might not, in fact, present a true picture of what research has shown cumulatively.

What is our response? As we also pointed out in our meta- analysis, the real problem is exactly the opposite in studies involving abortion: "there is indirect evidence to suggest the opposite trend in bias" - - that is, the bias is to not publish data which do show the ABC link. I call this the "reverse file drawer effect." As it happened, direct evidence of this bias surfaced shortly after we had submitted our meta-analysis for publication.

Back in 1988, Dr. Tom Rohan et al.published a study which focused on dietary risk factors and breast cancer in Australian women which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. As was appropriate, the study also looked at all the "classical" risk factors for breast cancer, including reproductive history. But curiously, no data were shown for abortion.

Fast forward to 1995. A research team headed by French epidemiologist Nadine Andrieu published a paper in the British Journal of Cancer, combining data from several earlier studies, including the Rohan study. Intriguingly, in presenting Rohan et al.'s earlier data, the Andrieu paper revealed for the first time the Australian data on induced abortion.

We learn from Andrieu's team that Rohan et al. had found that the strongest and most significant risk factor for breast cancer in Australian women (stronger even than family history of breast cancer) was induced abortion (as opposed to spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage): a whopping 160% increased risk! For a research team to omit its most significant finding is unheard of-but alas, not when the subject is abortion.

And sad to say, this disturbing trend of keeping evidence of the ABC link out of the published scientific literature is gaining in popularity; witness three recent studies on ethnic women.

The first of these studies, by Le Ming Bu et al., dealt with women in mainland China. It was actually published in abstract form in 1995 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Consequently, only its most basic findings were presented.

Even so, the findings are rather striking (and statistically significant). If a woman had one abortion, it raised her breast cancer risk by 190%. Two or more abortions raised breast cancer risk by 260%!

Over three years have passed since that abstract appeared. The full paper with far more detail and likely to attract far more attention than a mere abstracts has yet to appear.

But that is certainly not for lack of competence or reputation on the part of the authors or their lack of trying to get it published. It was co-authored by Janet Daling et al. of the top- notch Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington (who told me it has already been rejected by three major medical journals!).

The second study, published in 1996 in the Proceedings of the National Science Council, ROC, was written by Dr. Fu-Ming Lai et al. and concerns women in Taiwan. The Lai study focuses almost entirely on reproductive factors and their impact on breast cancer risk.

In fact, the list of reproductive variables examined including abortion -- is impressively thorough. The data tables are not quite as thorough, however. Data on abortion are con conspicuously absent.

That didn't stop the authors from categorically declaring the non-existence of any ABC link, as in: "the number of spontaneous or artificial abortions were not found to be related to an increased risk of breast cancer." To draw such a conclusion without even showing the data -- especially when the data for every other variable are shown is entirely improper.

Not being one to withhold the benefit of the doubt, I sent a polite request to Dr. Lai for the missing data. Seven months later, Dr. Lai has yet to reply.

Closer to home, also in 1996, Dr. A.H. Wu of the University of Southern California and colleagues published the paper "Menstrual and reproductive factors and the risk of breast cancer in - Americans" in the British Journal of Cancer. Considerably larger than the Lai study, it encompassed 492 breast cancer patients of Chinese-, Japanese-, and Filipino-American ancestry who lived in California and Hawaii. Like the Lai study, it also dealt with a very comprehensive list of reproductive factors, including induced and spontaneous abortion.

Concerning these last two variables, the data were not entirely absent as was the case with the Lai study but, rather, selective. In particular, data were given separately for induced and spontaneous abortion but only among the childless women in the study. Since only a small portion of the patients were childless (24%), the 92% increased risk of breast cancer among childless women could be written off as not statistically significant.

As in most study populations, the majority of the patients (76%) did have children. However, for them, the authors lumped together induced and spontaneous abortions, then spin-doctored the following conclusion: "The present study suggests a small increased risk with both spontaneous and induced abortion; neither increase was statistically significant." It is now over seven months since I requested the missing data from Dr. Wu. He also has yet to reply.

For all its selectivity and inadequacies, the Wu study still provided enough data to constitute the 11th study out of 12 in the U.S. (25th out of 31 worldwide) to evidence the ABC link. And now the list includes separate studies on three major American racial groups.


World Conference on Breast Cancer

Abortion and Breast Cancer
Positive Response To Latest Developments Presented At World Conference On Breast Cancer

by Joel Brind, Ph.D.

It was encouraging and somewhat surprising to have an update of our "Comprehensive review and meta-analysis" on induced abortion and breast cancer accepted for presentation at the July [1997] "World Conference on Breast Cancer" in Kingston, Ontario. The conference was organized by veteran pro-abortion activist Bella Abzug in her capacity as president of Women's Environment and Development Organization.

The original paper, which I had written in collaboration with colleagues from Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, was published in the British Medical Association's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health last October. My presentation in Ontario centered on several additional studies essentially confirming our original finding of 30% increased risk of breast cancer attributable to abortion. Nothing is more an article of faith for radical feminists such as Bella Abzug than that abortion is indispensable to women's equality.

Therefore I expected that the room would be largely empty -- especially given that there were five other concurrent sessions -- for such an against-the-grain presentation. But to my surprise, not only was the room full, but the attentive audience included Ms. Abzug herself.

As readers may recall, our meta-analysis found that 24 out of the 30 epidemiological studies published worldwide since 1957 have confirmed the abortion-breast cancer (ABC) link. More recent publications supporting and challenging the ABC link were discussed in my presentation in Kingston.

For one, there is the continuing heated debate about the Melbye study from Denmark published in this January's New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The U.S. National Cancer Institute and others continue to maintain that it disproved the ABC link. The World Conference provided me the opportunity to point out the serious flaws in the Melbye study, as had been done in an article published in National Right to Life News (5/23/97), and in a letter to the editor, which appeared in the June 19 edition of NEJM. Among other egregious flaws, Melbye et al. had misclassified some 60,000 women in the study as not having had any abortions who actually did have legal abortions on record!

For another, there was the Rookus study on Dutch women published last December in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI). Readers may remember how the authors of this well-designed study found a 90% risk increase with abortion, but then proceeded to explain it away on the basis of something called "reporting bias".

This curious argument holds that the ABC link only appears to exist because women with breast cancer are more likely to admit having had abortions than are healthy women. As a result, they say, studies which depend on women reporting their reproductive histories (as most studies do) will show an artificially elevated risk.

The authors of the Dutch study claimed to have evidence of reporting bias. But as was demonstrated both to readers of NRL News (12/10/96) and readers of the April 12 edition of JNCI, by way of another letter to the editor, it was this so-called evidence which had been artificially manufactured.

It was the JNCI editorial that accompanied the Dutch study which the journal's editors (who are also high-ranking NCI officials) used to attack our meta-analysis by name. They claimed we had made "a leap beyond the bounds of inference" for inferring a causal link between abortion and breast cancer.

In our letter rebutting these charges, we pointed out how, rather than relying solely on the statistical link, a causal association was also supported by the biological facts, namely:  

  1. "Estrogens are strong growth promoters of normal and most cancerous breast tissue.
  2. Most known risk factors for breast cancer are attributable to some form of estrogen overexposure.
  3. Maternal estradiol (estrogen) rises 20-fold (2,000%) during the first trimester of a normal pregnancy. [Estrogen makes breast tissue grow, including potentially cancerous tissue. If the pregnancy is completed, other hormones cause the breast tissue to differentiate into milk-producing tissue. If pregnancy isn't completed, the excess estrogen leaves the tissue free to grow into abnormal or even cancerous cells.]
  4. But "pregnancies which abort spontaneously (miscarry) usually generate subnormal amounts of estradiol; no increased risk of breast cancer is seen.
  5. The incidence of breast cancer is dramatically increased in rats whose pregnancies are aborted."

Most newsworthy in this regard, as I stated in Kingston, was the fact that in the editors' response to our letter in the JNCI not one of these biological facts was challenged!

Then there was the intriguing news about the mysterious appearance of the ABC link in Australian women. This evidence had been suppressed for seven years.

Back in 1988, a study on dietary risk factors for breast cancer in Australian women was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. However, the study, principally authored by Dr. T.E. Rohan (now in Toronto with the National Cancer Institute of Canada), also listed standard risk factors -- including reproductive history and family history. None of these factors had a statistically significant impact on Australian women in the study (except for removal of the ovaries). Abortion was never mentioned in the 1988 paper.

It was a 1995 paper, principally authored by a French researcher Nadine Andrieu, where the Rohan data on abortion made its first appearance. And it showed a statistically significant 160% breast cancer risk increase among women who had chosen abortion -- much stronger even than family history in these Australian women.

Why were the abortion data suppressed for seven years? Dr Rohan acknowledged, in a phone call I placed to him, that with the politically sensitive status of abortion, he had never even tried to include the results on abortion -- the strongest connection he found -- in the original 1988 paper.

"Canada's national newspaper", the Globe and Mail (July 15) called my presentation "one of the most controversial" of the Kingston conference. Indeed, it provoked many questions from the audience, the first from Ms. Abzug herself.

She wanted to know, if induced abortion increases breast cancer risk, how could Japan, which has had a high abortion rate for decades, have the world's lowest breast cancer rate? The answer which was explained in detail to the Kingston audience (as well as NRL News readers [4/6/95]) is simple.

Four epidemiological studies on Japanese women have been published since 1957. All show increased risk, with an average risk increase of about 100%. All these studies were scientifically correct: they compared Japanese women who had undergone an abortion to Japanese women who had not -- not to women from the U.S. or anywhere else. And in Japan, where breast cancer risk in the absence of abortion is about 2%, abortion doubles it to about 4% -- still much lower than the U.S. breast cancer rate.

Other provocative questions followed from this audience, well represented by breast cancer survivors, most notably concerning survival among women diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, and those who got pregnant after treatment for breast cancer. I reported that, contrary to commonly given medical advice, survival was markedly better in both cases among women who chose childbirth instead of abortion. Ironically, the best research in the world on these subgroups of women was performed at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, only 150 miles from where we sat in Kingston.

As the Globe and Mail article also reported, my world conference presentation "received applause from the audience, which included many pro-choice advocates." Thankfully, some organization concerned with women's health and women's rights has finally taken a good look at the ABC link. After all, abortion is the single most avoidable risk factor for breast cancer, and women everywhere have the right to know that!


Text of Oral Testimony given before the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration at its Public Meeting of July 19, 1996

by Joel Brind, Ph.D., Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Natural Sciences, Baruch College of the City University of New York, New York, NY 10010

In the 3-1/2 years since I sent Commissioner Kessler a detailed letter summarizing the research literature on abortion and breast cancer, considerable additional data have been gathered, bringing the issue into much sharper focus. To date, a total of 30 published reports describe 24 separate epidemiological studies which give specific data on induced abortion and breast cancer incidence. 19 of the 24 report overall increased breast cancer risk, 12 with statistical significance.Several important conclusions can be clearly drawn based on this substantial body of worldwide knowledge dating back to 1957:

1) Only induced abortion--not spontaneous abortion--is consistently linked to the incidence of breast cancer. The biological basis of this difference is also clear: Most spontaneous abortions are characterized by subnormal ovarian estradiol secretion. It is the surge of estradiol early in a normal pregnancy which provides an estrogen overexposure by which most known risk factors increase breast cancer risk.

2) Induced abortion increases breast cancer risk independently of its effect in delaying first full term pregnancy. An early full-term pregnancy decreases breast cancer risk. Since induced abortion also abrogates this protective effect, it raises breast cancer risk in two ways for young nulliparous women.

3) The increased breast cancer risk attributable to induced abortion cannot be explained by response bias in case-control studies. The only study claiming to provide direct evidence of response bias relies on the specious conclusion that breast cancer patients report having had abortions that never took place, and the only other study using prospective data found a statistically significant 90% risk increase.

4) There is now evidence of a particularly strong interaction between induced abortion and family history of breast cancer, shown by two studies published in 1994.

5) There is no basis for assuming that the somewhat younger average gestational age of medically induced abortions will confer any less of a breast cancer risk increase than surgical abortion: Neither of the two studies which looked at the timing of first trimester induced abortions found a significant difference between abortions before versus after 9 weeks. Endocrinological evidence backs this up: Estradiol begins to surge measurably within a few days after conception. Unfortunately, the short time alotted today does not permit me to report specific data. However, along with colleagues at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, I have completed a "Comprehensive review and meta-analysis" on the subject, which is now in press for this October's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Although subject to embargo, I can provide the FDA a copy if you are interested.

In the drug approval process to date for mifepristone/misoprostol, has breast cancer, even as a potential risk factor, ever come up? Indeed, the overall, highly significant positive association between induced abortion and breast cancer, which we have documented in the meta-analysis, demands that women be warned at the very least. Such warnings are already mandated to be given to any women considering induced abortion by law in Louisiana, Montana and Mississippi, with more such laws in the pipeline.

Finally, we are not speaking here about any concern for the life of any fetuses: only about the life and health of the women who may be able to take these abortifacient drugs. However safe this drug regimen may appear in short term testing, there is too much hard evidence that in the long term, many thousands of women will get breast cancer because they took these drugs.


Why the Silence About Abortion and Breast Cancer
Chicago Tribune; May 21, 2001

by Dennis Byrne [ Chicago-area writer and public affairs consultant.]

How long will this nation sit by as a powerful, well-funded industry continues to expose women to the No. 1 preventable risk of breast cancer?

How long will the industry's political flunkies, who receive millions in campaign funds from this special interest, be allowed to turn a blind eye to a danger that kills thousands of women every year?

How long will a biased media keep silent in the face of a hazard that directly imperils more than 1 million women a year?

No, I'm not talking about the chemical industry, daily poisoning the environment with its toxins. Nor the producers of fatty food or alcohol, also factors suspected of increasing breast cancer.

The industry I'm talking about is the abortion business--consisting of abortion "providers," their clinics, ideological supporters, grant-giving foundations and the rest of the political power structure that refuses to even admit that a scientific debate, let along scientific evidence, exists about the dangers of induced abortions. They--despite their claims of superior benevolence and compassion--are threatening thousands of women's lives with an unspeakably painful disease.

Yet in the month of May, a time of renewal, promise, new life and marches throughout the country against breast cancer, millions of women are being deceived about this risk, or denied the knowledge of important studies.

Twenty-seven out of 34 independent studies conducted throughout the world (including 13 out of 14 conducted in the United States) have linked abortion and breast cancer. Seventeen of these studies show a statistically significant relationship. Five show more than a two-fold elevation of risk. In turn, the abortion industry says all those studies are trumped by one study, whose methodology, critics say, is seriously flawed.

The biological hypothesis is that during pregnancy, a woman's breasts begin developing a hormone that causes cells--both normal and pre-cancerous--to multiply dramatically. If the pregnancy is carried to term, those undifferentiated cells are shaped into milk ducts and a naturally occurring process shuts off the rapid cell multiplication. An induced abortion leaves a women with more undifferentiated cells, and so, more cancer-vulnerable cells.

When I first wrote about this issue in 1997, the scorn and name-calling flowed in. Anti-choice fanatic. Ignorant bozo. Misogynist. Since then, much has happened. The United Kingdom's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists became the first medical organization to warn its abortion practitioners that the abortion-breast cancer link "could not be disregarded." It said that the methodology of the principal ABC (abortion-breast cancer) researcher, Joel Brind, was sound.

John Kindley, an attorney, warned in a 1999 Wisconsin Law Review article that physicians who do not inform their patients of the ABC link expose themselves to medical malpractice suits. He concluded that about 1 out of 100 women who have had an induced abortion die from breast cancer attributable to the abortion.

The American Cancer Society Web page lists induced abortions (along with pesticides, chemical exposures, weight gain and other factors) among elements that may be related to breast cancer, and that the relationship is being studied.

Earlier, Dr. Janet Darling and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in a study commissioned by the National Cancer Institute, found that "among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had . . . an induced abortion was 50 percent higher than among other women." The risk of breast cancer for women under 18 or over 29 who had induced abortions was more than twofold. Women who abort and have a family history of breast cancer increase their risk 80 percent.  The increased risk of women under 18 with that family history was incalculably high.

Being pro-choice didn't shield Darling from the usual attacks. She fought back. "If politics gets involved in science," she then told the Los Angeles Daily News, "it will really hold back the progress that we make. I have three sisters with breast cancer, and I resent people messing with the scientific data to further their own agenda, be they pro-choice or pro-life. I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It's not a matter of believing, it's a matter of what is."

Yet the Web site of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, sponsor of many marches, fails to mention even the possibility of the ABC connection in its list of risk factors. Not even under its list of fuzzy, not "clear-cut" factors. Not even the existence of a scientific debate over induced abortion is worth a mention.

As if women had no right to know.

If you want to know more, look in on the Web page of the Palos Heights-based Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer (www.AbortionBreastCancer.com). You may not agree with everything there but at least you'll be respected for your intellectual ability to make an informed choice.


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