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Essays (37)

Abortion and Breast Cancer
©William Gairdner

     Piece it together. Some 40,000 women, mostly tax-funded egalitarian radicals, descend on authoritarian China for the U.N. Conference on Women, clamouring after "reproductive rights" in the name of freedom.
     What they don't admit is the other side of their equation. "Femicide," the widespread killing of female infants (whether in or out of the womb) because they are "the wrong sex," is considered a reproductive right, and is rampant in much of the world. China registers fully 500,000 more boy than girl births every year. Suffocation abounds. Surprise, surprise: abortion-on-demand reinforces patriarchy. Freedom lovers cringe that it was only former communist leader Mao Tse Tung's insistence on equal rights for women that temporarily halted abortion and femicide.
     But there is a much more ironic spectre. Modern radicals are discovering that in her own way, mother nature may further trump their politics in a kind of revenge of the empty cradle: a lot of solid scientific research says women who have abortions are much more likely to die of breast cancer than if they had carried their child to term.
     Researchers have been stymied in efforts to explain the rapid global surge in breast-cancer rates since the 1970s. Environment, diet, age, and so on, have all been factored. Yet the increase remains a mystery. But what if it's not a mystery. What if for crass political reasons it is being kept a mystery by those who stand to gain? We get the slant when Claire Hoy, author of The Truth About Breast Cancer, says the $7 million spent each year by the Government of Ontario on four private Toronto abortion clinics is more than is spent on breast cancer research by the federal government and all provinces combined!
     The fact is that millions of unsuspecting abortion clients all over the world are not being told that in 1981 the British Journal of Cancer published a study by Malcom Pike showing a a 2.4-fold increase (240%) in the risk of breast cancer for women under age 33 who had undergone induced abortion prior to a full-term pregnancy.
     Almost 15 years have passed, and this research, or variations of it, has been repeated in major studies in many countries of the world. In 1993, Harvard law graduate Scott Sommerville published "The Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer," a summary of 24 refereed studies in prestigious international journals showing the link. He says there is a refusal to acknowledge these studies because "feminists are more pro-abortion than anti-cancer." They worry that the whole basis for legalization of abortion in the U.S.A. could be reversed because the courts were persuaded that abortion is supposedly safer than a live birth.
     The most recent study to land on my desk was "Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship to Induced Abortion," published on November 2nd, 1994, in the prestigious Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Newspapers reported that the article said women who have abortions are at a 50% greater risk of breast cancer. But they did not report it also says "induced abortion in the last month of the first trimester is associated with nearly a doubling of subsequent breast cancer risk" (a 100% increase), that women under 18 who underwent induced abortion "had a subsequent 2.5-fold increase in risk" (250%), and if first abortion was over age 30, "a 2.1-fold increase in risk" (210%).
     Another well-known Connecticut study of 3,315 mothers showed a 250% increase due to miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). I bet that hospitals and abortion clinics aren't handing out copies of these studies to prospective clients. And yet ... failure to disclose readily available information on potential health risks of medical procedures is illegal. So expect a flood of suits when, if, women wake up.
     The reason for the deadly connection between abortion and cancer seems to be that pregnancy initiates hormonal change promoting breast cell growth. Once mature and specialized, breast cells are unlikely to turn cancerous. However, if this natural process is interrupted by abortion, breast cells do not complete this protective process, and are far more vulnerable to cancer.
     Many suspect the abortion industry has been suppressing the news, and that drug companies have been funding studies designed to repudiate the rising evidence. The favorite tactic is a charge of "recall bias," suggesting that women who get cancer are more likely to remember a prior abortion than those who don't, thus flawing studies.
     Forget an abortion? Not likely. But no matter. A 1989 study by Holly Howe of the New York Department of Health, published in the highly respected International Journal of Epidemiology, devastated the recall-bias charge by using only women with officially-recorded abortions. No fibbing possible. She found a 90% increased risk of breast cancer among women who had first-pregnancy abortions.
     Yesterday I spoke with a genial, somewhat doubtful Dr. W. Hanna, Research Director of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. But astonishingly, she had not seen any of the above-mentioned studies. So I faxed them to her. I argued that with as many solid studies - even conflicting ones - on, say, the possible dangers of ozone, or cholesterol, the medical community would flash media warnings to the whole world. Why not with a possible abortion/cancer link? After all, what women need a lot more than a right to choose, is a right to know.