Study Shows Highest-Ever Abortion-Breast Cancer Risk for Women

National   Steven Ertelt   Aug 14, 2013   |   10:27AM    Washington, DC

A newly-published study shows the highest-ever abortion-breast cancer risk for women of any previously-published study on the link between the two.

A Bangladesh study published in the Journal of Dhaka Medical College on risk factors for breast cancer, led by Dr. Suraiya Jabeen, found a statistically significant 20.62-fold increased risk among women with abortion histories. The new study on the abortion-breast cancer link is by far the highest risk elevation reported among 73 published abortion-breast cancer studies.

“Physical inactivity, being menopause, positive family history of breast cancer and history of induced abortion were found important risk factors,” the authors wrote.

Professor Joel Brind, a professor at Baruch College, City University of New York who is an expert on the abortion-breast cancer link, said the reason why the risk elevation is so high is because it’s “a measure of relative risk.”

Observing that women in Bangladesh have very traditional childbearing patterns that reduce breast cancer risk, he explained: “Almost all the women are married (97% currently married; the rest widowed) and with child by the time they are 20, and all of the kids are breastfed. Ninety percent had their first child at age 21 or younger (99% of controls did). They typically neither take contraceptive steroids nor have any abortions. Nulliparity (childlessness) or abortion before first full term pregnancy (both of which mean no breastfeeding) in a population in which breast cancer is almost unheard of, makes the relative risk very high.”

Brind continued: “Although the authors did not include a measure of their abortion link’s statistical significance, their raw data was complete enough to calculate a 95% confidence interval of 12.85-32.51, making abortion by far the strongest and most significant risk factor observed in these Bengali women. In plain English, women in this population who had any induced abortions were more than 20 times as likely to get breast cancer, compared to women with no abortions.”

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According to the study, additional minor reproductive factors influencing breast cancer risk included: use of oral contraceptives (1.47-fold increased risk); early first birth at or before age 21 (0.35-fold reduced risk); having two or more children (0.29-fold reduced risk); and increased number of months spent breastfeeding (0.30-fold reduced risk).

Citation: 1. Jabeen S, et al. Breast cancer and some epidemiological factors: A hospital based study. Journal of Dhaka Medical College 2013;22(1):61-66. Available at: <http://www.banglajol.info/index.php/JDMC/article/viewFile/15628/11078>.