How could abortion cause breast cancer?
At the beginning of pregnancy there are great increases in certain hormone levels (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, and hCG) that support pregnancy. In response to these changes breast cells divide and mature into cells able to produce milk. Abortion causes an abrupt fall in hormone levels, leaving the breast cells in an immature state. These immature cells can more easily become cancer cells.
Has this been proven?
Yes. As of 1999, 11 of 12 studies in the USA and 25 of 31 studies worldwide, showed that women who experienced an induced abortion had an increased risk of breast cancer. In 1996, Joel Brind PhD, assembled the results of all the studies up to that time. Brind concluded that women who have an abortion before their first full-term pregnancy have a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer while those who have an abortion after their first full-term pregnancy have a 30% increased risk.
What does it mean to have “a 50% increase risk of developing breast cancer”?
A 50% increased risk means a 50% higher risk than someone whould have otherwise. For example, if a person already had a 10% risk of developing breast cancer, then a 50% increase would bring the risk up to 15%.
How serious a problem is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the worldwide leading cancer in women and is the most common cause of cancer death for US women age 20-59. In the UK, 12,417 women died of breast cancer in 2005.
This means that about 1 American woman out of 8 will develop breast cancer at some time in her life and about one-fourth (25%) of such women will die from this disease. Induced abortion, especially at a young age, markedly increases a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer.
This risk is increased even further by other breast cancer risk factors, such as synthetic hormones (including hormonal contraceptives – Birth Control Pill, Norplant, Depo-Provera, etc.), family history of breast cancer, among others.
The breast cancer rate in the US is rising, and will likely rise even higher once the latent period (the time it takes for cancer to develop) for these women has passed.
Calculations based on available studies indicate that induced abortion may result in over 46,800 additional cases of breast cancer in the U.S. annually, and a similar proportion in the UK.
Are some groups of women in greater danger?
Yes. The research shows that induced abortion increases the risk of breast cancer more for some groups of women than for others. Black women have higher rates of breast cancer and tend to develop more aggressive cancers. There is also a greater risk in women who have had abortions if they were under age 18 at the time, if they do not have any more children after abortion, or if they have a family history of breast cancer.
What is the risk for young women?
Janet Daling noted in 1994 that women younger than 18 who had an abortion experienced a 150% increased risk of developing breast cancer. This became an 800% increased risk if they had their abortions between the 9th and 24th week of pregnancy.
What if there has been breast cancer in my family?
Women who have a family history of breast cancer and choose to have an abortion are at very high risk of developing breast cancer. Andrieu found that women who had a family history of breast cancer and had 2 or more induced abortions had a 600% increased risk of breast cancer as compared to the rest of the population.
Daling noted that women who had an abortion prior to age 18 and had a positive family history of breast cancer had an infinitely increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to young women who had a family history of breast cancer and had not had an abortion.
Daling also noted that women who were 30 or older at the time of their abortion and had breast cancer in their family history had a 270% increased risk.
But isn’t pregnancy & childbirth more dangerous than abortion?
No. The risk of breast cancer is increased by abortion and the suicide risk – and the risk of clinical depression and maternal mortality in general – is much higher after an abortion. On the other hand, the risk of ovarian cancer is decreased after a full-term pregnancy. Because of changes in these 3 risk factors alone – without even considering clinical depression and other maternal mortality causes – abortion is many times more hazardous in the long-run than carrying a child to term.