The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Doctor changes position on abortion-breast cancer link

That’s the big headline from a study released last year, and now making news:

An April 2009 study co-authored by a researcher who has previously denied an abortion-breast cancer link shows a statistically significant increase in breast cancer risk among women who have had abortions or who use oral contraceptives. The study by researchers including Jessica Dolle of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research contained a table reporting a statistically significant 40 percent risk increase for women who have had abortions. According to the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer (CABC), the study listed abortion as among “known and suspected risk factors.”


The CABC says that one co-author of the study, U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher Dr. Louise Brinton, had organized a 2003 NCI workshop on the abortion-breast cancer link. That workshop reportedly said the non-existence of an abortion-breast cancer link was “well established.”

CNA contacted Dr. Brinton for comment but did not receive a reply by publication time.

Dr. Joel Brind, who is a CBCP advisor and president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor of endocrinology at Baruch College at City University of New York, said that the study’s findings on abortion were not new.

Rather, they repeated the “modest but significant” findings of the 1990s which found a breast cancer risk factor increase of between 20 and 50 percent.

However, he said Dr. Brinton’s participation in the study was significant because the NCI has “firmly maintained” a position denying an abortion-breast cancer link since 2003.

Check out the link for the rest.

Comments read comments(15)
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RP Burke

posted January 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

The thing that anyone must carefully consider here is whether there is a legitimate basis for theorizing that the relationship is causal rather than merely correlative.
Put another way, anyone analyzing this must be wary of the post hoc, propter hoc fallacy.

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Steve P

posted January 7, 2010 at 11:29 am

I think those involved in medical research tend to be pretty cautious with their conclusions, especially if it overturns previously held positions. (I know that sounds like a very broad blanket statement, but a substantive peer-reviewed study such as this does not sound as though it has a marketing agenda or some such behind it. It’s not a “4 out of 5 dentists surveyed” sort of thing.)
I couldn’t help noting that the “modest but significant” language is inserted by some to temper the reactions to findings like this. Anything else that could be a contributing cause to breast cancer is typically met with a full-frontal campaign in order to eliminate it from women’s diet, lifestyle, or whatever. Conversely, anything that might reduce one’s risk of breast cancer is touted on the cover of every magazine as a major breakthrough.
But let’s not come out too strongly against the sacred cows of oral contraceptives and abortion… that might be anti-woman or something.

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Nick Matyas

posted January 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

Very good posting. I just love it.
Good luck man with your work.

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posted January 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

When looking over the Dolle et al. paper, I think it is important to break down all the data and not lump contraceptive use in with abortions first off.
First the odds ratio for induced abortions leading to breast cancer was 1.4 in their study. It relies on patient self-reporting for this bit of the study, so it suffers from the same design problems that older papers also had in the past. Another point to think about is the difference between relative and absolute risk. Breast cancer risk in women between 20 and 45 who were part of this study is very very low. So having an abortion could push your absolute risk from ~1% to ~1.4%, pretty underwhelming.
Now concerning the use of oral contraceptives. Out of 897 breast cancer patients, only 187 of these (the triple negatives) were affected by oral contraceptive use. So again, when you consider that breast cancer is very uncommon in women 20 to 45 years of age and now consider that only 21% of these are triple negative breast cancers, the absolute risk for oral contraceptives leading to breast cancer is now ~0.21%, just behind the risk of getting struck by lightning or a falling meteorite.
The bottom line…oral contraceptives are safe.

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posted January 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm

For awhile, it has been looking more and more like the mechanism is that pregnancy causes breast changes which can only be reversed by breastfeeding. That applies to women who miscarry as well as women who procure abortions, and to women who carry their babies to term and give them up for adoption or who use infant formula as a substitute for feeding their babies.
If so, it’s not that abortion causes the cancer, but that “getting rid of” the pregnancy via abortion doesn’t “get rid of” the cancer risk associated with becoming pregnant. The only way to get rid of that risk is by breastfeeding in a biologically normal way (i.e. without the need for any artificial human milk substitutes.)
Even though the Vatican in a signatory to the 1990 Innocenti Declaration, the Church hasn’t been exactly countercultural in applying pro-life principles to issues of infant formula use, and so worrying about the breast-cancer risks of abortion seems a bit, well, selective.

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posted January 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

While breast feeding for a long period of time (greater than one year) slightly lowers the risk of breast cancer, it is not necessary for a woman to breast feed her child in order to reduce her risk for breast cancer. Having children when young, having lots of children, entering puberty at an older age, and early menopause all are correlated with reduced breast cancer risk.

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Deacon Greg,
I recently began a pro-life blog as both an unapologetic Roman Catholic, loyal to the Magisterium, and as a Ph,D. Molecular Biologist who sees that research like Dr. Joel Brind’s is being ignored by the editorial boards of mainstream scientific journals. There is actually a substantial body of literature supporting a link between the pill, abortion, and breast cancer. Science is loaded with its orthodoxies and politics that often suppress the truth.
If you go to my blog, Coming Home,
In the “Categories” Panel of the sidebar, click on the Breast Cancer category and read the posts in chronological order. I have quite a bit there, and more to come. I’m doing one post every Wednesday.
Also, while you are there, I have another sidebar panel Titked Breast Cancer-Abortion-Birth Control Link, with plenty of information in there.
As for the rest of the site, I’m also tackling the condom issue and using the science to demonstrate that the activists have it tragically wrong, & lots more.
God Bless

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Sorry, didn’t add URL to the post.

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Kok Siong Chen

posted January 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I think it is quite difficult to carry out this study as it needs the patients’ self confession about the abortion. Thanks for sharing!

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posted January 26, 2010 at 4:51 am

More information about Breast Cancer you can find in:
This site contains information On Pregnancy Diseases And Genetic Testing.

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posted March 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

If you are willing to buy a house, you will have to get the home loans. Moreover, my brother all the time utilizes a collateral loan, which supposes to be the most reliable.

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Ella JoyLover

posted May 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Really interesting article u have here. It would be great to read more concerning this topic. Thnx for giving such data.

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posted June 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I think I just have been acknowledged about this issue
at work 1 day ago by a friend, but at that moment
it didn’t caugh my attention.

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posted July 11, 2010 at 5:19 pm

n the whole world’s time, at some pass‚, our inner pep goes out. It is then break asunder into passion by an contend with with another benign being. We should all be indebted for those people who rekindle the inner spirit

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posted July 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

In harry’s sustenance, at some occasion, our inner throw goes out. It is then bust into zeal beside an be faced with with another benign being. We should all be glad for those people who rekindle the inner transport

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