A new study indicates that either delaying a first pregnancy until after the age of 30 or having an abortion raises a woman’s risk of contracting breast cancer.
Biochemical researchers at Georgia Regents University revealed yesterday that they have found that the gene DNMT1 which is essential to maintaining breast, or mammary, stem cells, that enable normal rapid growth of the breasts during pregnancy, also produces stem cells that may enable breast cancer. They explained that mammary stem cells help maintain the breasts during puberty as well as pregnancy, both periods of dynamic breast cell growth.
During pregnancy, breasts may generate 300 times more cells as they prepare for milk production. This mass production may also include tumor cells, a mutation that seems to increase with age. The researchers pointed out that when the fetus is lost before term, immature cells that were destined to become breast cells, can more easily become cancer.
The researchers pointed out that while the exact reasons remain unclear, there is an increased risk of breast cancer if the first pregnancy occurs after age 30 as well as in women who lose their baby during pregnancy or have an abortion.
“While the exact reasons remain unclear, there is an increased risk of breast cancer if the first pregnancy occurs after age 30 as well as in women who lose their baby during pregnancy or have an abortion. Women who never have children also are at increased risk, while multiple term pregnancies further decrease the risk, according to the American Cancer Society,” the researchers said in a statement.
The head of a British pro-life group says the study is important and women need to know these risks before having an abortion.
“This is the type of research we have been calling for. There are over 50 studies showing a link between abortion and breast cancer. Now this study shows possible biological causation and we would therefore urge the medical research community in the UK to engage in greater scientific investigation,” LIFE Spokeswoman Anne Scanlan said.
She added: “For too long this issue has not been taken seriously despite the large number of studies pointing to a link. We have to act in the best interest of women and if there are long term health risks associated with induced abortion, it is right, as in any medical procedure, that women are fully informed of the associated risks.”
Scanlan pointed out how, in 2013, a major Chinese study covering 14 provinces of China showed a positive link between abortion and breast cancer. The study published in the prestigious medical journal Cancer Causes Control, concluded that just one abortion was associated with 44% increase from the baseline risk of breast cancer. For women who have had two abortions there was a 76% increase from the baseline risk, and for women who have had three or more abortions the risk almost doubles.