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The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

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1 The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link on Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:33 pm

Easter-won

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http://www.headlinebistro.com/en/columnists/nadal/index.html

Politically Correcting the Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

by Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D.

“The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

So said Senator Hiram Johnson a century ago, and his words remain true today in the war declared on Christian Civilization. The pivotal battle in this war is the issue of abortion, as abortion strikes at the very sanctity of human life: of motherhood, fatherhood, family and the very essence of who we are, in Whose image we are made. So desperate are abortion’s proponents to present it as an absolute good, that clear and consistent data establishing a link between abortion and breast cancer have been actively denied by some of the very authors who discovered them, as they drafted a National Cancer Institute policy paper denying the existence of fifty years of data linking abortion and breast cancer.

The biology behind the issue is relatively straightforward. During puberty, girls produce 15-25 lobes in the breast, which will produce milk after the births of their babies. Each lobe may be thought of as a main branch of a tree. These lobes branch into several lobules. Under the influence of the menstrual hormones estrogen and progesterone, immature and cancer-susceptible Type-1 and Type-2 lobules form.

During normal pregnancy the ovaries secrete elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone, which cause the Type-1 and Type-2 lobules to increase in number. By mid-second trimester the breast size has doubled and rapidly matures under the influence of human placental lactogen. By 40 weeks of pregnancy, 85% of all lobule cells will be cancer-resistant Type-4 cells.

After a woman is finished nursing, many Type-4 cells will revert to Type-3 cells with evidence existing that genetic changes in these cells leave them cancer-resistant.

The mechanism by which abortion, oral contraceptives and combined hormone replacement therapy leaves women susceptible to breast cancer becomes evident since the biological basis for all three risks is the same. In terminating a pregnancy before a first full term pregnancy, the breasts have drastically increased Type-1 and Type-2 cells (leaving the breasts with more places for cancers to start), but have been denied the maturational and protective benefits of the last trimester. The birth control pill mimics this process on a monthly basis.

Miscarriage is an exception, as most women never produce significantly elevated levels of estrogen in these pregnancies.

Dozens of studies dating to the late 1950s have established links between abortion and breast cancer, ranging from over doubled risks in teens to an incalculably high breast cancer risk for women who have abortions before age 18 as well as family history of the disease. Most of these studies are retrospective. That is, they take breast cancer patients and a group of healthy control subjects and ask questions about past gynecologic and reproductive history, including answering questions about prior abortions.

Incredibly, Dr. Louise Brinton of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (NCI), chaired a panel in 2003 that dismissed the findings of these peer-reviewed studies (including her own), claiming the women involved were subject to “recall bias,” as though women who have had abortions are likely to forget.

Scientists have tested for recall bias on many occasions, in several different countries, but no scientists today claim to have found credible evidence of it. Nevertheless, Brinton’s workshop produced a “Fact Sheet” which summarily dismissed all credible data establishing a link between abortion and breast cancer.

The NCI workshop looked at only a few prospective studies, those relying on medical records before a patient developed breast cancer, and which were subsequently shown in medical journals to be methodologically flawed. The depth and breadth of the methodological flaws exceeds the limits of this article, but may be found at the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer (ABC). ABC links to excellent articles here and here by Joel Brind, Ph.D., of Baruch College, City University of New York, which critique the flaws in NCI’s workshop and in the prospective studies used.

Brinton was part of a research team led by respected cancer researchers Janet R. Daling and Jessica M. Dolle of the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which published a paper last year: Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years, in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

This 2009 paper, under known and suspected risk factors, reports a statistically significant 40% increased risk of breast cancer. That’s an astounding admission from coauthor Brinton, in light of her NCI denial of such a link, as is this quote from the results section of the paper:

In analyses of all 897 breast cancer cases, the multivariate-adjusted odds ratios for examined risk factors were consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women. Specifically, older age, family history of breast cancer, earlier menarche age, induced abortion, and oral contraceptive use were associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.

The “previous studies” which Brinton’s study mentions include studies conducted in 1994 and 1996 by this same team of researchers. Brinton served as co-author in the 1996 study. Although Brinton and the NCI had said that studies relying on women’s reports of abortion histories were flawed, Dolle’s team (which included Brinton) relied on women’s self-reports of abortion histories.

This 2009 paper was picked up by the pro-life blogosphere in January of this year and created a firestorm. A notation was subsequently added to the NCI Fact Sheet that states: “Reviewed 1/12/2010”. No change in policy or the webpage was made.

Thus, there is a compelling incongruity between the NCI and its branch chief’s denial of the link between abortion and breast cancer on the one hand, and what its branch chief’s research has reported before and since.

Women are dying, and continue to contract breast cancer at frightening rates. Yet abortion’s proponents have engaged in scientific misconduct at the highest levels: reporting the truth in journals, then publicly dismissing those data in a Procrustean attempt to accommodate a political agenda, leaving millions of women’s lives compromised as a result.

Dr. Nadal holds a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology. In addition to teaching for 16 years, he's spent seven years working with homeless teens at Covenant House in Times Square, New York. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in theology through Franciscan University of Steubenville and blogs at http://gerardnadal.com.


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