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Studies denying abortion-cancer link debunked
Posted By Ron Strom On 12/01/2005 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Ten studies touted by those who claim there is no link between abortion and breast cancer have been debunked in a new analysis being released today.
Published in the winter edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the findings were compiled by Joel Brind, Ph.D., president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York. Brind’s paper is an update of a similar analysis he completed in 1996.
In his essay, Brind addresses 10 separate studies conducted between 1996 and 2005 – studies used by those who deny a link between induced abortion and cancer – pointing out problems with the each study’s methodology. He asserts those problems skew the results toward the denial of a causal connection between abortion and breast cancer, also known as the ABC link, making them thoroughly unreliable.
Brind criticizes a large study in Denmark done in 1997 that concluded: “Induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.” But the way the study was conducted is suspect, the professor contends. The study tracked abortions that occurred only since 1973 even though the procedure was legalized in Denmark in 1939 and thousands of older women whose records were part of the research had abortions before 1973.
Also, Brind points out, the study’s authors did find a trend of increased risk for breast cancer in those having abortions after 18 weeks of gestation but did not include that fact in the study’s conclusions.
Brind also takes aim at a Seattle study that included just 138 women, all of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994.
“Strangely, no reason is given by the authors as to why only one year of diagnoses was chosen, why the year chosen was 1994 and not any other year, and no mention is made of the fact that the study is unusually small and the results should therefore be interpreted cautiously, to say the least,” writes Brind. “The authors were nevertheless unjustifiably unequivocal in their conclusion that their ‘results do not support a relation between induced abortion and breast cancer incidence.’”
Another study Brind looks at was conducted in 2000 in Oxford, UK. Though the study was large, Brind says, “more than 90 percent of women in the study who had had an abortion were misclassified as abortion-negative. Even the authors admitted that their ‘data on abortion are substantially incomplete.’”
A 2003 study in Sweden is similarly criticized in Brind’s analysis.
A study this year of Scottish women, Brind points out, purposely left out women who had abortions before 1981. This in a country where abortion is used primarily as a means to delay childbearing.
Writes Brind of the Scottish study: “The most suitable prospective database yet to become available for the study of induced abortion and breast cancer was deliberately distorted beyond recognition. Hence, the authors’ conclusion that induced abortion is not a ‘substantive risk factor’ for breast cancer merits no credibility.”
Mentioning research that does show a causal ABC link, Brind states, ” It is therefore only reasonable to conclude, from all extant evidence, that induced abortion is indeed a risk factor for breast cancer, despite the strong and pervasive bias in the recent literature in the direction of viewing abortion as safe for women.”
The basic biology underlying the ABC link boils down to the fact that breast cancer is linked to reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen. At conception, a woman’s estrogen levels increase hundreds of times above normal – 2,000 percent by the end of the first trimester. That hormone surge leads to the growth of “undifferentiated” cells in the breast as the body prepares to produce milk for the coming baby.
Undifferentiated cells are vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, which can give rise to cancerous tumors later in life. In the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy, those cells are “terminally differentiated” through a still largely unknown process and are ready to produce milk. Differentiated cells are not as vulnerable to carcinogens.
However, should a pregnancy be terminated prior to cell differentiation, the woman is left with abnormally high numbers of undifferentiated cells, therefore increasing her risk of developing breast cancer.
Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, are not generally associated with increased risk, since they generally occur due to insufficient estrogen hormones to begin with.
Although this basic biological explanation remains undisputed, establishment cancer organizations and the medical community at large continue to deny or downplay the ABC link, using studies such as those criticized by Brind.
Abortion provider Planned Parenthood claims on its website that there is no ABC link, stating, “Attempts to prove [the cell differentiation] theory … have failed.”
Brind’s 1996 meta-analysis reviewed all the studies done in the previous decade and found a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer for women choosing an abortion after a first full-term pregnancy and a 50 percent risk increase for women choosing an abortion before a first full-term pregnancy.
Brind is the second professional in recent months to accuse scientists of bias and sloppiness in studying the ABC link. Last December, Ed Furton, Ph.D., editor of Ethics and Medics, opined in an editorial that scientists had done “shoddy research” on the issue.
The fear of lawsuits motivates those who deny the ABC link, according to Andrew Schlafly, general counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
“The abortion industry and medical establishment withholds this information (of an abortion-cancer link) in an attempt to prevent massive lawsuits from being filed,” Schlafly commented.
In an article in the medical group’s journal earlier this year, Schlafy argued the abortion-cancer link is driving the medical malpractice insurance crisis in the United State. Failure to diagnose breast cancer is the most common malpractice lawsuit in the U.S. today.
Commented Karen Malec of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer: “The [ABC link] evidence is a half-century old, and the suppression of it is an atrocity.”
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