Breast cancer, abortion link a bogus scare tactic

Brooklyn Middleton/Staff Writer

Though there is extensive medical research completely refuting the propaganda that abortion can increase the risk of breast cancer, anti-choice organizations continue to cling to their claims, blatantly spinning facts to support their anti-abortion crusade.

The “research” these anti-choice organizations rely on is antiquated and largely based on self-reported cases and personal interviews, which led to the publishing of literature declaring a link between abortion and breast cancer.  However, according to the Feminist Women’s Health Center, the 30-year-old Swedish study that disproved this claim was based on a study of more than 49,000 women and was not based on personal interviews.

This solid research was a huge factor that led the National Cancer Institute to state that women who had abortions, even more than one, were not at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.  However, it seems anti-choice organizations like the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer and Optionline have intentionally disregarded this research.

Simon Caldwell writes, “There has been an 80 percent increase in the rate of breast cancer since 1971, when in the wake of the Abortion Act, the number of abortions rose from 18,000 to nearly 200,000 a year.” Caldwell knows very well that it is logical that women would have been less likely to report having an abortion whilst it was illegal, thus making it nearly impossible to make a factual point about the seemingly sudden surge in breast cancer cases after abortion became legal.

Despite Optionline’s claim that “Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer,” it is pivotal to point out the citation is from the 1970s, making this claim decidedly outdated and intentionally misleading. The National Cancer Institute’s website adamantly states there is no link between abortion and breast cancer: “In February 2003, the [NCI] convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. They concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.” This scare tactic is particularly immoral.  It speaks volumes about these organizations very foundations; in their desire to propel an anti-abortion agenda, they will tell women anything to discourage abortion.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer’s website states, “The abortion-breast cancer research has been suppressed for many years, in part because the political climate in the United States is extremely antagonistic toward this message.” If the political climate in the U.S. is indeed antagonistic toward this message, it very well should be.  Antagonism toward tactics that dissuade abortion by distorting the truth should be decried and should seek to promote and protect women’s health must reflect the strong scientific research that there is no link.

The propagation of misinformation to women exploring their pregnancy options isn’t just anti-choice; it’s anti-woman and incongruent with the sanctity of women’s health and their inviolable right to choose.

3 Comments on "Breast cancer, abortion link a bogus scare tactic"

  1. Staff writer wrote, “Despite Optionline’s claim that “Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer,” it is pivotal to point out the citation is from the 1970s, making this claim decidedly outdated and intentionally misleading.”

    Wrong. It’s listed on Susan G. Komen’s website as a preventative measure: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/NotHavingChildrenorHavingFirstAfterAge35.html

    The science here isn’t difficult:

    1. Estrogen is a Class I carcinogenic, according to the World Health Organization: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/index.php. So the more a woman is exposed to estrogen, the greater her chances of contracting breast cancer. When a woman is pregnant, her exposure to estrogen is restricted by internal hormonal controls.

    2. Breast cells only fully mature and differentiate after 32 weeks of pregnancy. While undifferentiated they are susceptible to cancer.

    These two reasons explain why, according to Komen:

    1. Early full-term pregnancies protect against breast cancer

    2. Delayed full-term pregnancies (after ~ age 35) increase the risk of breast cancer

    3. The more full-term pregnancies the better to guard against breast cancer

    4. Women who do not children are at increased risk for breast cancer

    4. Breastfeeding protects against breast cancer

    And yet abortion has nothing to do with anything? On its face, this is illogical. Abortion increases a woman’s exposure to estrogen. Abortion also stops breast cells from differentiating.

    Two additional facts Komen admits that also relate to increased and decreased exposure to carcinogenic estrogen, and thus a greater or lesser likelihood of breast cell mutation:

    1. The earlier an adolescent begins menstruating increases her risk of breast cancer

    2. The later a woman stops menstruating increases her risk of breast cancer.

    It is YOU who is actually propagating misinformation and, therefore, increasing the likelihood your female readers will contract breast cancer.

    • Jill, having children below age 35 is a protective factor but having children above age 35 is a risk factor. So, since you are so interested in women’s health, would you support women who choose to have abortions after the age 35? after all, having kids after that age is a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Or are you simply using the cancer issue as a scare tactic in your campaign against those who exercise their constitutional rights?

  2. Ms. Stanek,
    I resent that you would accuse me of “increasing the likelihood” that my female readers will contract breast cancer.
    My assertion about the misleading nature of Optionline’s statement “Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer,” is twofold. First, I stated it is misleading because it uses fear to encourage carrying a fetus to full term and not choose an abortion. Secondly, it lacks a follow up clarification that research has shown that regardless of choosing to abort or not the likelihood of contracting breast cancer remains the same.
    Your breakdown of the research is highly subjective and unsupported by both The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on
    Gynecologic Practice (ACOG) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
    Also, your information is unsupported by the very website you cited. In November 2008, the Susan G. Komen foundation published a statement, titled, “Is There an Abortion/Breast Cancer Connection? Modern Studies Say No.” http://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/Content_Binaries/2008AbortionBreastCancerBackgrounder.pdf
    You asked, “And yet abortion has nothing to do with anything? “ Yes, abortion has to do with quite a bit, but, according to the vast majority of health experts, it has nothing to do with an increased likelihood of having breast cancer. Furthermore, I would argue that your assertion that “the science here isn’t difficult” illustrates just how little you know, scientifically, about this matter. While I haven’t conducted my own case studies on the (non) link between abortion and breast cancer, I am going to go ahead and trust the research of the ACOG and NCI. Based on the fact that they are, you know, actual medical organizations that complete and conduct research and studies in regards to women’s health.

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