By: Caroline May
Pro-life advocates have argued for years that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer — due to hormonal changes during pregnancy which leave breasts more vulnerable to cancer. Despite their advocacy, the Department of Health and Human Services denies that there is any link.
On Monday the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer pointed to a new study which found a nearly 3-fold increase in the risk of breast cancer among Armenian women who had an abortion as yet another reason women should steer clear of the procedure.
The report, “Influence of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 and Prolonged Estrogen Exposure on Risk of Breast Cancer Among Women in Armenia” published in Taylor & Francis was authored by Lilit Khachatryan of the Department of Public Health at the American University of Armenia. The study included researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania.
The research found that induced abortions increased a woman’s risk of beast cancer 2.86 times — they claim however that “most evidence … points to no effect.”
The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer contends that political correctness was the reason the researchers claimed there is no link.
Baruch College biology and endocrinology professor Joel Brind — an advocate of the breast cancer/abortion link — criticized the findings, explaining in a statement that the researchers “did not — and perhaps were not allowed to — characterize their findings honestly in the politically correct atmosphere of the U.S. and Europe. The good news is that they were able to report their findings in a prominent peer-reviewed journal at all.”
Karen Malec of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer pointed out that, though they deny a link, the researchers’ finding — that women who had an abortion were 2.68 times more likely to have breast cancer — was not a surprise as, according to Malec, 51 of 67 epidemiological studies since 1957 show a link.
The HHS’s National Cancer Institute, however, says that it is “well established” that “induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”
When queried about the possible link between abortion and breast cancer NCI spokeswoman Aleea Farrakh Khan directed The Daily Caller to the NCI’s “Fact Sheet” regarding abortion and breast cancer risk.
According to the online document, NCI convened a 2003 workshop featuring “100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk.” The experts “concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.”
That workshop represents the basis on which NCI concluded that there is no link. NCI notes that it regularly considers new scientific findings but has not been swayed from its 2003 conclusion.
According to NCI, the factors that increase the chance of breast cancer are old age, family history of breast cancer, early age of first menstruation, late age of menopause, late age at the time of her first full term baby, and “certain breast conditions.” Obesity also represents a risk for postmenopausal women.
Despite the government’s assurance, the school of thought that continues to allege possible links is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.