CHICAGO — A new study dismisses the link between abortion and breast cancer. But a prominent scientist has found flaws in the study.
The study, published April 23 in a journal of the American Medical Association, supports earlier findings by the National Cancer Institute and others that contend that induced abortion does not raise the risk of breast cancer in women.
“It’s just like ‘safe sex’ and ‘safe pills,’” said Dr. Joel Brind. “It’s part of the agenda that they will not acknowledge any aspect of abortion that is not safe. That is the prevailing dogma: that abortion must be considered safe.”
A group of scientists convened by the National Cancer Institute concluded in 2003 that abortion did not raise the risk of breast cancer. Brind was the lone voice of dissent.
The new study, which appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at data from 105,716 women who were between the ages of 29 and 46 at the start of the study. Every two years, they were asked about abortions, miscarriages and new breast cancer diagnoses.
Researchers reported no greater rate of breast cancer among the women who had abortions, compared to the other women. But Brind, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, told the Register that the study is flawed because researchers did not allow enough time following women’s abortions for the potential cancer to develop.
“This is a population where 10% had fewer than 10 years of follow-up,” he said. “Some subjects as little as zero. Ninety percent of the patients had at least 10 years of follow-up, which begs the question: Why not just eliminate the 10% of the patients who didn’t? It wouldn’t have seriously impacted the statistical power of the study, but it would have eliminated an obvious source of error. Why did they do that? My speculation is that it didn’t give them the right answer.”
But the new study’s lead author contends the study is sound, despite her admission that abortion may play a role in a woman getting cancer.
“No one factor causes cancer,” said Dr. Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School. “You always need several factors that play together to cause cancer. We don’t know where in the sequence abortion might fit in. It might very well be the last factor to bring out an underlying cancer.”
Brind is not alone in disputing such studies. Minnesota, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia require that women seeking an abor-tion be told of the possible link to breast cancer. Minnesota and Louisiana don’t enforce the law, and the requirement in Montana is tied up in litigation.
In a 2005 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Sur-geons, the organization’s general counsel pointed out that doctors who don’t warn women about the link between abortion and breast cancer are open to legal action.
Two years ago, an Oregon judge signed the first judgment ever against an abortion-ist for psychological injury and failure to inform a patient about the increased risk of breast cancer associated with having an induced abortion.
In 2003, a similar case in Philadelphia was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
In 1996, Brind co-authored a sta-tistical analysis of the link between abortion and breast cancer published in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Com-munity Health. The analysis found that studies dating back to 1957 demonstrate that having an abortion increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by one third.
Since that time, there has been an “orchestrated effort on the part of not only the National Cancer Institute but medi-cal associations around the world ... pretty much circling the wagons that abortion is safe for women,” Brind said.
Angela Lanfranchi, a breast cancer surgeon and professor at Robert Wood Johnson University in Bound Brook, N.J., said premature delivery (prior to 32 weeks) — including miscarriage and induced abortion — more than doubles breast cancer risk.
“A premature delivery is the same thing in terms of breast physiology as an induced abortion,” she said. “It leaves your breast with more places for cancers to start. Induced abortion is just a premature delivery of a dismembered fetus.
“But spontaneous abortions or miscarriages in the first trimester don’t increase risk. Twenty-three percent of women have miscarriages after conception. The hormone levels are low and their breasts don’t change.”
Despite the evidence, Michels, who co-authored the April study, admitted that finding real causes for breast cancer has eluded researchers. “We haven’t done a good job in pointing our fingers at what it is that causes breast cancer,” she said. “Needless to say, there are several factors, but we really haven’t found the explanation for the majority of breast cancers.”
Brind, however, contended that ideology and multi-million-dollar research grants have led to researchers skewing data to come up with a preferred outcome in studies like the one released last month.
“There’s a difference between believing it [results of studies denying the breast cancer-abortion link] and toeing the party line officially and publicly,” he said. He points to a 2002 report from the Women’s Health Initiative that discovered that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in post-menopausal women increased the risk of heart attack and breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy was designed to decrease heart attack risk.
“Women just stopped using it by the millions,” he said. “Within a year or two, they started to see a substantial drop in post-menopausal breast cancer cases.”
Brind, who teaches endocrinology at Baruch College of the City Univer-sity of New York, sees a parallel when it comes to abortion and breast cancer.
“The dirty little secret is that the scientists had known for 15 years that post-menopausal combinations of HRT raise the risk of breast cancer,” he said. “This was not news to the scientists, but it was news to the women who were taking it.
“April was the 50th anniversary of the abortion-breast cancer link. The first study that showed a significant link between abortion and breast cancer was a nationwide study on women in Japan published in 1957. It’s quite a milestone and they’re still covering it up.”
is based in Naples, Florida.