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Breast Cancer and Abortion

Last week I mentioned the furor associated with Komen’s defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Sadly, that decision has been reversed.

Here’s a newspaper article that sums up the whole story in impassioned terms.

Tucked into it is this discussion of the link between breast cancer and abortion:

For the past 15 years, there’s been a growing controversy over the link between induced abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. In 1996, a paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health provided the first evidence of a connection between abortion and breast cancer. Pooled data from 28 studies demonstrated that women who had abortions had increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 30 percent. Subsequent studies supposedly disproved this  association, but a 2005 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons paper showed these studies had methodologies that were sufficiently flawed “to invalidate their findings.” And, in 2007, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons  reported that induced abortion was the risk factor that best predicted the incidence of breast cancer in European women.

In 2009, a key researcher at the National Cancer Institute reversed her position and stated that abortion is a significant factor in raising the risk of breast cancer. Dr. Louise Brinton co-authored a 2009 study stating that induced abortion increased the risk of triple-negative breast cancer by 40 per cent in women under 45. The paper, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, stated the above and then lent its support to previous studies by saying that this increase was “consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women.”

You won’t find this information on the Canadian and American cancer sites which work hard to deny a link between breast cancer and abortion. 

Now, I have not investigated any of the research in depth.  However, as a scientist, I do know that a researcher’s presuppositions play a role in experimental design and analysis.  I also know the tremendous influence that funding agencies have in directing research direction and goals.

And I’m realizing that many organizations are not really interested in women’s health but in a pro-abortion ideology or in money.

Aside: Two resources that opened my eyes to some of the background issues involved in the abortion debate are Unplanned by Abby Johnson (about a Planned Parenthood worker who changed her mind about abortion after assisting in one) and Uncle Sam’s Plantation by Star Parker (in which the author mentions that abortion providers target poor neighborhoods and suggests that this may be race-related).

4 Comments

  1. Laraba says:

    This whole situation is tragic. I agree that it is a relatively rare researcher who can rise above his/her ideology and hopes in an issue as emotionally charged as this one! It is SO easy to mess up medical research, even unintentionally at times!

    I too haven’t looked into this research, but it makes sense to me that an abortion would cause rapid hormonal changes that could well fuel medical problems. A physician frined of mine says there is data tying miscarriage to breast cancer as well (a scary finding for me and her as we’ve both had multiple miscarriages.) On the other hand, there is pretty solid proof that lots of breastfeeding helps.

    I hate being so cynical, but I’ve gotten to the point that I have trouble trusting a LOT of “scientific” data out there when there is ideology involved.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      From what I’ve read, pregnancies that end in miscarriage usually involve fewer hormones and less changes in the breast tissue, and are therefore nowhere near as likely to cause breast cancer as abortions are. Some studies have shown this, but of course people argue about it. It does, however, agree with the mechanism suggested for the link between abortion and breast cancer.

      The mother’s age at which she has an abortion also seems to make a difference. For mothers under 18 having abortions, I recall that one study found a 100% increase in the breast cancer rate.

      Apparently it also makes a difference to the breast tissue whether or not the mother had already carried a pregnancy to full term before having the abortion.

      If the suggested mechanism is valid, it could make sense that the much-smaller link between abortion and miscarriage would also depend on the mother’s age and whether or not it is her first pregnancy.

      It’s all complicated, but there seems to be little evidence that miscarriage increases the breast cancer likelihood as much as abortion does.

      But, like I said, I have not studied the research in-depth.

  2. Laraba says:

    Thanks so much. It totally makes sense that an abortion would be far harder on the body than a miscarriage since in the case of an mc, the body itself has lost the baby and God has made our bodies “wonderfully made”. I did everything I could to be healthy for the babies I lost, so it doesn’t really “worry me” though I do want to be wise about breast cancer as we have a pretty strong family genetic issue too. Thankful that I have nursed for years and years, as that decreases the risk.

    I didn’t realize there was an age factor though that makes sense too. I have read that birth control pills for very young women increase risk of breast cancer as well though I have not read the research thoroughly.

    Thanks also for the high school suggestions. Yes, I think Apologia is the way to go and I’ll look at the records thing soon.

    God bless!

  3. […] knowledge of Hitler.  (Caution: disturbing scenes.)  Statistics, such as the information about breast cancer and abortion, may convince […]

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