A Quiet Admission Speaks Loudly About Abortion and Breast Cancer

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 13, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

A Quiet Admission Speaks Loudly About Abortion and Breast Cancer

by Dave Andrusko
January 13, 2010

LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. He writes Today’s News and Views, an online editorial column on pro-life issues, where this originally appeared.

The first couple of sentences might seem to have precious little to do with abortion and breast cancer but read the following quotation right to the end. It’s from a post by Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center:

"Back in the early 1800’s, most practicing physicians refused to believe that the simple gesture of washing their hands between patients could help prevent the spread of childbed fever among the pregnant women they examined. Even in the face of compelling scientific evidence, they remained stubbornly opposed to the practice. As a result of this intransigence on the part of the medical establishment over a period of many years, childbed fever (also known as puerpural infection) ended up unnecessarily claiming the lives of thousands of young women. Today, a similar intransigence exists among many physicians who refuse to "wash their hands" of abortion; they also fail to acknowledge a key and dangerous effect of abortion on women’s health, namely, an increased risk of breast cancer."

I quote from Fr. Pacholczyk for a lot of reasons (it’s a very clever parallel, for starters), but most of all because it illustrates the power of conventional thinking, a.k.a. the received wisdom. This is critically important in the debate over abortion.

Physicians have been indoctrinated to believe (or have chosen to believe) that it is hooey to contend that having an induced abortion heightens a woman’s risk of incurring breast cancer. So, too, has the public, and legislatures around the country.

What is the fallback, the last line of defense that makes their consciences rest easy (and defeats various legislative initiatives)? The conclusion reached by a National Cancer Institute workshop in 2003 that there is no association.

The importance of this conclusion is almost immeasurable, including that it represented a dramatic turnaround for the National Cancer Institute. As Joel Brind, Ph.D, wrote for National Right to Life News:

"Evidence of the link between abortion and breast cancer [the ABC link] is not new. It has appeared in the medical literature since 1957. The issue assumed a high national and international profile in 1994, when a study published by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in its own journal showed a 50% increased risk of breast cancer by age 45 for women who’d had any abortions.

"That study, by Janet Daling and colleagues of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, also showed particularly alarming risk increases–150%–for women who’d had an abortion under age 18. And if such women also had a family history of breast cancer, the risk increase was reported as extraordinarily high.

"The NCI–the largest institute of the National Institutes of Health–has been backtracking ever since. Up until 2003, the NCI called the ABC link’s evidence ‘inconsistent.’ But in that year, an NCI ‘workshop’ proclaimed that the link’s nonexistence was ‘well established.’"

The ringleader was National Cancer Institute (NCI) researcher Louise Brinton. Why is that important six plus years later?

Because of a study published last April whose results are just beginning to be appreciated for what they say about the ABC link.

Brinton was one of seven co-authors of "Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years," which appeared in the American Association for Cancer Research’s medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The study is primarily about the association between the use of contraceptives and increased risk of a particularly virulent form of breast cancer in women under the age of 45.

But the study also matter of factly acknowledges a 40% risk increase in abortion risk for women who’ve had abortions and lists abortion among "known and suspected risk factors"

The academic pedigree of the study is impeccable. Lead author Jessica Dolle is associated with the renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center located in Seattle, Washington.

I’m told that various publications and independent researchers have tried to contact Brinton to ask her to comment on the apparent discrepancy. As of yesterday, to the best of my knowledge, she has not responded.

I asked Dr. Brind, a frequent contributor to National Right to Life News and a regular at NRLC’s annual conference, about what this bombshell tells us. [The following is a direct quote.]

It tells us that some people think they can operate in parallel universes–stating one thing as a fact in one forum, and the opposite in another. Asserting that the link’s non-existence was "well-established" made it official to the medical establishment.

But the Dolle paper is like catching a politician "off mike," when you get to hear what they really think.

Of course, the Dolle paper is published, but then again, so are the mountains of worldwide data that show the ABC link to be real. And they just get buried by the NCI, the media, and their ilk. In fact, the Dolle paper is really a recalculation of data published by the group led by Prof. Janet Daling in 1994 and 1996–data that Brinton’s NCI has "officially" called unreliable.

But as a co-author of the Dolle paper, Brinton now calls these results "consistent with the effects observed in previous studies." Seeing the contradiction, at least one mainstream reporter–from Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe & Mail–has asked to talk to Brinton at the NCI. But the NCI underlings just referred her to the 2003 "workshop" claims of no link.

Obviously, they think they can get away with it. The lives of many women and children will be saved if they don’t.

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