Abortion and Breast Cancer:
THERE IS NO LINK
research does not support a link between abortion and an increased risk of breast
cancer later in life, researchers at a National Cancer Institute concluded at
the end of a special workshop on Feb. 26, 2003. Participants concluded that studies
that claimed a connection between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer
were "flawed." Larger better-designed studies indicate NO link. more
Since 1994, several exhaustive studies have found no
tie between abortion and breast cancer. A 30-year Swedish study of 49,000
women indicated no link between abortion and breast cancer. Furthermore, the
Swedish study did not suffer from an inaccurate reporting of medical histories
because it was based on a national medical registry in Sweden and not based on
Largest Study Ever in Denmark, 1997
in 1997, a study from Denmark indicates no increased risk for women who
had abortions when they analyzed medical histories of more than 1.5 million
women. This larger more comprehensive study is persuasive because it does
not rely upon interviews. Data came from Denmark's national health records, thereby
eliminating the possibility of "recall bias." The study showed that
even women who had two or more abortions were no more likely than those who never
had an abortion to develop breast cancer.
The Danish study analyzed the
abortion histories of 10,246 women with breast cancer among 1,529,512 women. A
total of 370,715 abortions occurred in 280,965 women. Among the 2.3% of women
who had abortions after the first trimester (after 12 weeks), the researchers
found a gradually increasing risk of breast cancer as the stage of pregnancy advanced.
However, researchers concluded that the actual number of women with second trimester
abortions was too small to warrant a firm conclusion. In Denmark, abortions are
both legal and free, so there are fewer reasons for women to have abortions after
18 weeks unless there are other medical problems. These other problems might themselves
be the cause of the increased cancer rate.
Interestingly, women who had
abortions prior to seven weeks of pregnancy actually showed a slightly decreased
risk of developing breast cancer. But again, the actual number of women in this
category is very small.
Also in January 1997, a Netherlands Cancer Institute
study documented the existence of "recall bias" and concluded it was
a significant factor affecting early studies on the link between abortion and
Other Published Reports: According to findings
published in the January 2000 issue of Epidemiology, women who have
had an induced abortion are at no more risk for breast cancer than their counterparts
who did not have an abortion. Researchers at the University of Minnesota's School
of Public Health-Division of Epidemiology and the Mayo Clinic examined a study
sample of 1986-1995 data from 37,247 Iowa Women's Health Study participants ages
55-64, who, at the 1986 baseline, reported no history of breast cancer. Through
1995, 653 women underwent an induced abortion. The authors found that the age-adjusted
relative risk of breast cancer among women with prior induced abortion was no
greater than those who had never undergone an abortion, nor did the risk increase
with increasing numbers of induced abortions. There were 438 cases of breast cancer
per 100,000 person-years among women who reported they did have an abortion, compared
to 392 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 person-years for women who did not have
abortions. (Lazovich et al., Epidemiology, 1/00 issue). As reported
by the Kaiser Daily Reproductive
Health Report, Jan. 25, 2000.
groups are constantly searching for ways to frighten women away from choosing
abortion. In fact, anti-abortion groups are the only ones actually telling
women to avoid abortion as a means of protecting against breast cancer. They have
even proposed legislation to require that women seeking abortion be informed of
studies showing an increased risk for breast cancer. This legislation is particularly
dangerous because it does nothing to help women understand the true causes of
breast cancer, nor does it help an individual woman understand her own risk .
National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society agree that concerns
about breast cancer should not influence a women's decision about abortion.
See the NAF (National
Abortion Federation) website for further
analysis of the breast cancer studies.
According to the New
England Journal of Medicine, published in 1997, induced abortions have no
overall effect on the risk of breast cancer, based upon a review of the study
in Denmark of 1.5 million women.
For more information
about Breast Health
Breast cancer is a serious health concern
for women. We encourage women to learn all they can about breast cancer
prevention and to practice regular self breast exam to know what is normal or
what is a change for yourself. Loving our bodies, loving our breasts,
and taking care of ourselves is a first step all women can take.
cancer and environmental toxins
Breast Cancer Coalition
Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
National Breast Cancer Organization
Cancer Prevention Ideas at www.preventcancer.com
for Reproductive Law and Policy - "Beyond
the Cancer Myth" shows how the anti-choice movement is using an unproven
and untrue theory in court cases and legislation restricting access to abortion.
“Post-Abortion Syndrome” Myth Based on Faulty Science
January 6, 2009
1964, the World Health Organization concluded that 80% of cancers were due to
human-produced carcinogens; in 1979, the National Institutes of Health identified
environmental factors as the major cause of most cancers. Yet, only a tiny fraction
of the National Cancer Institute budget has gone toward research on prevention.
Feminist Women's Health Center