Studies Show Abortion-Breast Cancer Link Exists, Despite Oxford Survey
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 26, 2004
London, England (LifeNews.com) — The head of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is denouncing a new study which claims that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. The study is receiving enormous attention in the media and from groups that hope to downplay the link.
Coalition president Karen Malec told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the researchers who produced the study are biased.
"They’re cooking the books to come up with the desired result," Malec told the newspaper.
In the latest study, which the mainstream media are depicting as the final word on the subject of abortion and breast cancer, researchers from the University of Oxford simply took a second look at studies that had been conducted previously.
Dr. Valerie Beral asked the authors of the studies to provide their original data so that it could be examined by epidemiologists at Oxford. The Oxford group examined studies involving tens of thousands of women.
Beral said, "The totality of the worldwide epidemiological evidence indicates that pregnancies ended by induced abortion do not have adverse effects on women’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer."
But the analysis produced by Beral’s team, published in the journal Lancet, appears to be flawed, according to Malec.
"Their efforts are not only grossly unethical, but they’re also anti-woman," Malec said.
Malec notes that 28 retrospective studies all show a greater risk of breast cancer among women who undergo abortions. Yet, the Oxford researchers discount retrospective studies because they say that healthy women lie about their abortions more often than do breast cancer patients.
In a news release from Lancet announcing the publication of the study, Professor Richard Peto said, "Studies can give misleading results if women are asked about previous abortions only after they are diagnosed with breast cancer. This may well be because, on average, women with breast cancer are more likely than other women to disclose any prior induced abortions."
However, Malec says, on the contrary, a number of other researchers have found that such "report bias" does not exist.
The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer also cites other studies, which have been endorsed by the National Cancer Institute, which say that women who give birth at a young age or more than once have a lower risk for breast cancer.
By having an abortion, Malec told the newspaper, "you’re losing the (cancer-related hormone) benefit of having that child."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for LIFE, the leading pro-life group in the United Kingdom, is refuting claims that the Lancet study resolves the debate about whether there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.
In fact, LIFE has gone so far as to call the study a "disgracefully sloppy and misleading piece of work."
Professor Jack Scarisbrick, LIFE Chairman said, "The evidence that induced abortion is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly when the pregnancy is a first
one and where there is a family history of the disease, is overwhelming, despite this latest paper. Twenty-eight out of the 37 studies worldwide into the abortion/breast cancer link (ABC link) show that the procedure increases a woman’s chance of contracting breast cancer later in life."
Scarisbrick insists the Lancet study simply retreads old ground.
"This latest paper is merely relying on studies that have been shown, time and time again, to be worthless. Professor Joel Brind of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, New York, has shown in his meta-analysis of the available literature that the ABC link does indeed
exist," Scarisbrick said.
Scarisbrick said the Oxford researchers made a serious error in relying heavily on two studies that have been shown to be invalid.
A Denmark study, known as the Melbye study, "misclassified 60,000 women as non-abortive when they had in fact had abortions. Much worse, his study covered only women aged 12 to 57.
"Since breast cancer is largely a post-menopausal disease, that female population would have developed only about 40 percent (at most) of the breast cancers which it would eventually produce. So his conclusions were worthless," Scarisbrick said.
Another flawed study, from Oxford, ignored abortions done in the private sector. As a result "its conclusions are meaningless," the UK pro-life leader said.
A panel appointed by the National Cancer Institute last year concluded there was no link between abortion and breast cancer. However, some leading medical experts have refuted that claim.
In fact, a number of states in the U.S. have sought to require information about the abortion-breast cancer link to be included in women’s informed consent laws. Those laws are designed to ensure that women are told about the health risks of abortion, in addition to information about the development of the unborn child, before an abortion can take place.
Scarisbrick points out that breast cancer has been linked time and time again with high levels of estrogen.
"Never is estrogen at such high levels as in early pregnancy when it increases by 2000% and triggers the multiplication of breast cells. If the pregnancy is artificially cut short as in induced abortion, these cells are left highly vulnerable to carcinogens," he said.
The pro-life UK leader noted that the abortion-breast cancer link will not go away.
"We are not exaggerating the link as they claim; on the contrary, we are highlighting a women’s health issue that is being covered up by the medical establishment. They prefer to blame women themselves for the massive increase in breast cancer rates — they eat/drink too much, stay up too late — anything but the truth."