New Study: Pregnancies Lower The Risk of Breast Cancer; Abortions Hurt

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Study: Pregnancies Lower The Risk of Breast Cancer; Abortions Hurt Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 30, 2006

Heidelberg, Germany ( — A new study by international researchers finds that a woman’s risk of contracting breast cancer is lowered and the decrease is more substantial the more pregnancies a woman has had. As a result, women who have abortions could be losing missing an opportunity to lower their chance of contracting the disease.

Women with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have an increased breast cancer risk. In the general population, factors such as multiple pregnancies, first pregnancy at a young age and breastfeeding have a protective effect by helping to reduce breast cancer risk.

But, researchers didn’t know if those actions had a beneficial effect for women carrying the mutated genes. In order to answer the question researchers in several nations initiated a study called the International BRCA1/2 Carrier Cohort Study (IBCCS).

Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center studied women with inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. They found that a woman’s risk to develop breast cancer after age 40 is the lower, the more pregnancies she has had.

All of the women participating in the IBCCS study had the mutated genes and 853 of them had breast cancer.

Professor Jenny Chang-Claude of the German center, French scientist Dr. Nadine Andrieu and other colleagues used the data of 1600 study participants to investigate whether and how pregnancy affects women with the mutated genes.

The found that women with the genes having just one child had the same breast cancer risk as women who had no children.

However, among mothers with several children, the risk of contracting breast cancer after 40 was lowered 14 percent with every child she had.

The positive effect may be accounted for by the fact that the milk forming cells in the glandular tissue of the breast only mature completely during a pregnancy, the researchers said. Scientists suppose that the cells’ tendency to transform decreases with increasing maturation degree.

They also found that women with the BRCA2 mutation had double the risk of contracting breast cancer if they gave birth after 20 than those who gave birth before 20. The data suggests teenagers who are considering an abortion should be advised to carry the pregnancy to term.

Carries of the BRCA1 mutations were found to have a lower breast cancer risk when having a child after the age of 30, suggesting that older women should also be advised not to have an abortion.