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The Breast Cancer Link to Abortion

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Abortion is an emotive subject. Some people think that a woman should always have the right to control what happens to her own body, others disagree and think that an embryo or fetus is a person from the moment of conception.

Arguments focus on the unborn baby, but very little attention is given to the woman. The pro-life issue is not just about the baby’s life, but the mother’s life too.

During the woman’s pre-operative consultation, the surgeon is supposed to inform her of any complications or side-effects she may encounter from the procedure. Although abdominal pain, pelvic infections and perforations of the uterus are routinely mentioned, breast cancer never is.

A study in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology found that women who had had induced abortions were at a much greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who had not had an induced abortion.

Between January 2000 and December 2006, a survey was conducted among various medical clinics in Turkey. It involved 1492 breast cancer sufferers and 2167 women with other health problems.

The study authors wrote:

‘These findings suggest that age and induced abortion were found to be significantly associated with increased breast cancer risk.’

Other risk factors included being older than 35 at the time of giving birth to her first child, lack of breast feeding, having a family history of breast cancer and being overweight.

Since breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with 12,082 deaths in the UK and 40,460 deaths in the USA in 2007 alone, obstetricians should tell women considering an abortion that it does carry a risk of cancer.

Honesty would not only limit the number of terminations and potentially reduce cancer rates, but it would also allow the woman the opportunity to make a truly informed choice.

Source: World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2009, 7:37doi:10.1186/1477-7819-7-37.

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/.

Add a Comment2 Comments

I did say in the article that they found other factors that were also associated with increased risk of breast cancer,

'Other risk factors included being older than 35 at the time of giving birth to her first child, lack of breast feeding, having a family history of breast cancer and being overweight. ' - on the second page.

I guess you could say that with any medicine or study there is going to be debate and no matter what subject it is, you will always find studies for and against.

October 8, 2009 - 3:56pm

Studies about risk are just that, a risk amongst all the other risks women have in developing cancer. Statistics in studies are tricky to read, interpret and draw conclusions. Clearly the breast cancer abortion controversy is a heated and emotional one. Studies do not consistently support that abortions can cause breast cancer. The Turkish study you cite supports this. "Some previous studies suggested that, induced or spontanous abortions were associated with either increased or decreased risk of breast cancer, or no associations could be found with breast cancer risk for these factors"

In the Turkish study, the authors also indicate that other risk factors have been supported or not supported in past studies about breast cancer. Family history, geographic region, being overweight, smoking, education, breast feeding, use of birth control pills or hormone replacemene. Until recenly, women were told for years that hormone replacement helped protect them from cardiac disease based on previous studies that involved thousands of women. Now women are told hormone replacement can increase their risk of breast cancer, stroke or cardiac disease.

This Turkish study also found that women who take BCPs or hormone replacement had a decreased incidence of breast cancer. So based on the results of their study: Should women avoid abortions but consider taking BCPs or hormone replacement to prevent breast cancer? Of course not, especially since so many other studies dispute this.

This is why interpretation of studies is difficult which is why they are repeated over and over with different groups, locations and ages to really try to hone in on what is causing what. Women need to review all their risk factors that come into play in making their healthcare decisions.

The Turkish study can be found at http://wjso.com/content/7/1/37

October 8, 2009 - 6:25am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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