Friday, February 3, 2012

Depoliticizing the Abortion/Breast Cancer Link

Read the studies, look at the facts, keep an open mind, do not base your opinion on your beliefs about abortion and determine for yourself: Is there a link between abortions and breast cancer? What is your opinion? All comments welcome. Also, if anyone has links to other, independent studies, I'd be interested in seeing them.

The recent events of the Susan G. Koman foundation pulling and then renewing support for Planned Parenthood has brought up, once again, the issue of “does Abortion increase the risk of breast cancer?”

As a nurse, I was interested to know the facts.  It seems that there are a lot of studies out there with differing viewpoints.  Both sides use the studies that support their views as “proof” one way or the other.  The interpretation of the studies has been so politicized, that it is difficult to determine if there is a connection or not.

This topic is coming up again is because of the Koman foundation’s monetary support of planned parenthood.  It is an issue because, if there is a connection between abortion and breast cancer then how could the Koman foundation, who's main goal is eradication of breast cancer, support an organization, planned parenthood, who’s main focus is abortion, if there is a link?  Both organizations have stated that they believe there is no link between abortions and breast cancer.

But why should the Koman foundation be funding planned parenthood, what does planned parenthood have to do with breast cancer.  According to both the Koman foundation and Planned Parenthood, the funding is for breast cancer screenings.  In my opinion, I believe that Planned Parenthood is not the best use of this money and that the Koman foundation would be better able to provide breast screenings more cost effectively if they remove the middle man, Planned Parenthood.  This opinion has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood’s abortions, but rather, it makes better business sense.  It seems that the Koman foundation is bending over backward to accommodate Planned Parenthood and I find their connection suspect.  It seems, to me, there must be something more going on.  In order to do justice to the topic, I am eliminating both the Koman foundation and Planned Parenthood from the discussion.

Back to the topic of abortion and breast cancer.I have looked over many studies.There are studies to support both sides. 

First, let me start by saying that I am pro-life.I do not believe in abortion and I believe that abortion is the killing of a baby. In conversations, I have never used the alleged abortion/breast cancer link to support my belief. I do not need there to be a link between abortion and breast cancer for me to be pro-life. To me, the killing of an unborn baby is wrong, plain and simple. I have approached the topic with an open mind and have tried to present both sides fairly.

Those who support the “no-connection” theory, and that it has been proven debunked will show you this from The National Cancer Institute based on a 2004 report from a 2003 workshop:

This includes the results from a wide variety of studies and it has been determined to be definitive proof by those who believe there is no connection.  I have found that almost all of those who support the "no-connection" theory reference either this fact sheet or the conference that reported the study that this fact sheet is based on. 

This also links back to the above information from the National Cancer Institute report and they make the conclusion:

"At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer."

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists  (ACOG) also refers to the 2003 workshop and the above information.  They however preface the information with the following statement:

"This document reflects emerging clinical and scientific advances as of the date issued and is subject to change. The information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed."

On the other side of the debate is Dr. Joel Brind who counters in this 2005 article in the “Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons” that there was reporting bias in the 2003 workshop and subsequent 2004 report.

 Dr. Brind has also mentioned that during the 2004 seminar, conflicting viewpoints were not allowed to be presented.  In essence he is saying that, instead of investigation all data and letting the data dictate if the theory is true, they found data to support their theory and disregarded the rest.  In some cases they  may have even manipulated the studies to fit the theory.

Dr. Brind:

This video of Dr. Brind is from the “Life Matters” program, again politicizing the issue.

It is difficult to look at all of these and not say they are biased.  Each side has an agenda.  On one side are the pro-abortionists wanting to prove that there is no increased risk of abortion and breast cancer and the pro-life side that wants to use the link as additional ammunition against abortion.

I do need to point out that the video’s that feature Dr. Brind give logical thought as to WHY there is a risk whereas the other studies simply say there is no link, end of story.
I also need to point out that Dr. Brind, while not the only one supporting the connection, he is the most vocal.
Again, this list is published by abortion/breast cancer coalition

So who do you believe?

I have done some research and came across this article from 2010, that is peer reviewed, but that no one has, of yet, used as a weapon in this abortion/breast cancer link war entitled:

  The conclusion of this study is that “Based on the researches done for the purposes of this project, we concluded that artificial interruption of pregnancy is one of the numerous causes (factors) of breast cancer arising.”
This study does not appear to have any bias and does not seem to have been sponsored by any group. 

In addtion, the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute believes there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.

A pamphlet from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute:
Abortion & Breast Cancer: Is there a Link? What is the Truth Behind the Controversy

In it they state that abortion is a factor which increases breast cancer risk:
Induced abortion leaves increased number of immature breast lobules and increases risk of premature births.  It also increases estrogen exposure.

How Does the Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer Work?
Two principles account for the link:

1. Estrogen Exposure
2. Breast Lobule Formation
Estrogen Exposure

As soon as conception occurs and even before implantation in the uterus, the embryo secretes a hormone, hCG (Human chorianic gonadotropin), which causes the mother’s ovaries to produce more estrogen and progesterone. This causes the mother’s breasts to become sore and tender.

In a viable pregnancy, estrogen levels increase 2,000% by the end of the 1st trimester. This surge in hormones causes the breasts to grow by making more Type 1 & 2 lobules where cancers can start. The breast doubles in volume by 20 weeks.

Breast Lobule Formation
  • After 32 weeks of pregnancy, the Type 1 and 2 lobules mature into Type 3 and 4 lobules in preparation for breast feeding.
  • If the pregnancy ends by elective abortion, the increase in numbers of Type 1 and 2 lobules formed in the first two trimesters provide more places for cancers to start, increasing risk.
  • Women who never carry a pregnancy beyond 32 weeks never fully mature their breast tissue and have increased risk.
  • Women who delay full-term pregnancy past age 30 have a 90% higher risk of breast cancer than those who carry a pregnancy to term by age 20.

A Woman’s Choice

A woman who chooses induced abortion of her first pregnancy:
  • Denies herself the risk reduction of a full-term pregnancy.
  • May never have children—a risk for breast cancer.
  • Or, delay a full-term pregnancy which increases her risk of premenopausal breast cancer by 5% per year delayed after age 20.
A woman who chooses induced abortion after she has had a child:
  • Denies herself a further 10% reduction in risk by another full-term pregnancy.
  • Will have increased the number of Type 1 & Type 2 lobules where cancers start in her breast.
Here is a video that explains why it is believed that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer but it also has a segment where Dr. Brind’s explains about studies and how they should be done. This video is put out by an organization that supports the abortion/breast cancer link.

The 2007 study that is mention in the video: (which comes after the 2004 report that supposedly “debunks” the theory) supports the abortion/breast cancer connection.


Research Analysis, My Opinion:

Being that there are such conflicting reports, I cannot state for certain that there is not an abortion/breast cancer link. If you compare the evidence from one side or the other, the side supporting the link has presented a much better case with better references. The National Cancer Institute's fact sheet that everyone else seems to reference is lacking the information department. They make a list of findings, "studies show," but really no reference to the studies upon which those findings are based. 
The breast cancer prevention institute, on the other hand seems to believe there is a connection as addressed in their pamphlet.

In addition, if you remove all of the previous studies that have been biasedly used and focus on the independent study of 2010, there seems to be more proof that there is a link than there is not. If there is a link and there is a cover up, would those involved in the cover up be guilty of negligence? Would they not be criminally liable for withholding pertinent information from those receiving abortions? It is unlikely there will be a conclusion to this debate anytime in the near future. Though in my mind it seems there is, indeed, a connection between abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer.

1 comment:

  1. There simply is no way in current times to know if there is a definite link between breast cancer and abortion. How do we know if the person who had an abortion was going to have breast cancer or not later in life whether they had the abortion or not?