ABORTION IN THE NEWS
Do Women Who Abort Face Future Breast Cancer?
For a number of years now there have been various studies to determine whether there is a link between abortion and future breast cancer in women who abort. Since abortion remains a controversial issue, many discount any connection, claiming that it is simply a way to discourage abortion. Others, however, continue to point to evidence of such a link.
In December a study was published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control which pointed further to a link between abortion and breast cancer. This study was done on Chinese women. The one child policy enforced strongly in China has caused many Chinese women to abort a second child rather than face a prohibitive fine, loss of jobs, or other severe punishments. Since abortion is so prevalent in China, it seems like a perfect laboratory for such research. In this particular study, researchers found a 44% increase in breast cancer risk after an abortion. This risk increase grew to 76% after two abortions and 89% after three abortions.
This month another study was published in the Issues in Law and Medicine entitled Breast Cancer and Induced Abortion. This scientific review of 72 epidemiological studies conducted by Angela Lanfranchi, MD, and Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. found support for an abortion breast cancer link, based upon current knowledge of breast physiology, as well as epidemiological and experimental research.
The authors explained that when a pregnancy begins there is a surge in hormones, especially estrogen, which encourages increased breast growth early in pregnancy. This results in an increase in Type 1 and Type 2 lobules, which is where most cancers are known to begin. If the pregnancy continues uninterrupted, these Type 1 and 2 lobules mature into Type 3 and 4, which are cancer-resistant, instead of cancer susceptible. Even if a woman only carries her pregnancy to 32 weeks instead of 40 weeks, she then has 90% of the low risk associated with a full term pregnancy. This is consistent with other well-accepted factors which identify cancer risk for premature births before 32 weeks, and second trimester miscarriages.
Recognizing the differences of opinion which exist on this topic, the authors recommend the establishment of a tissue bank and the development of further research data from existing mammography centers which would ultimately provide conclusive data on this important women's health issue.