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Study: Abortion More Than Tripled Breast Cancer Risk for Sri Lankan Women

LifeSiteNews.com

By Patrick B. Craine

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, June 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new study out of Sri Lanka has found that women who had abortions more than tripled their risk of breast cancer.

The study focused on analyzing the association between the duration of breastfeeding and the risk of breast cancer.  But the researchers also reported other “significant” risk factors for breast cancer, such as passive smoking and being post-menopausal.  The highest of the reported risk factors was abortion.

The study, entitled "Prolonged breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer in Sri Lankan women: A case-control study," was led by Malintha De Silva and colleagues from the University of Colombo.

The researchers found that among women who breastfed for between 12-23 months there was a 66.3% risk reduction in comparison to those who had never breastfed and those who breastfed for between 0 and 11 months. The risk reduction climbed to 87.4% for those who breastfed for 24-35 months and 94% among women who breastfed for 36-47 months.

Dr. Joel Brind, an epidemiologist at the City University of New York, cautioned that the researchers do not clearly indicate whether they are referring specifically to induced abortions, as opposed to spontaneous abortions (miscarriage).  Requests for clarification have not yet been answered.

However, in the study the researchers compare their findings with other studies that focused on induced abortions, seeming to suggest that induced abortion was their focus.

According to Dr. Brind, an expert on the association of abortion and breast cancer, the findings are consistent with studies from other populations where abortion rates are low. He explained that in epidemiology, risk factors are best analyzed in places where the particular factor is less prevalent. Once most people have that factor, however, it is much more difficult to study its influence, since it is difficult to find anyone with whom to compare.

“This study is consistent with the kind of data we used to see in China and Japan when abortion had a very low prevalence,” he said.  But in China, where abortion has become rampant, research is now showing a higher risk of breast cancer following abortion.

Dr. Brind said that the study’s raw data supports the conclusion about the abortion-breast cancer link.  But he criticized the paper about the study, which he said “has some errors in it which should have been corrected on peer review.”

Most significantly, he highlighted the researchers’ claim that a late age at first pregnancy strongly decreased the risk of breast cancer, which goes against all the other research over the last 50 years.  “This is not a valid finding,” he said, because the researchers “actually miscalculated their own raw data.”

Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, said that the study shows that "women who abort forfeit the protective effect of breastfeeding.” 

“The loss of that protective effect is incurred in addition to the effect of abortion leaving the breasts with more places for cancers to start.”

Malec said that given the lack of routine mammograms in Sri Lanka, “health professionals must focus on disease prevention,” which would involve publicizing the link between abortion and breast cancer.

“It is criminal that the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) has covered up this risk for over a half century," she said.

However, she continued, "It's becoming increasingly difficult for the NCI to keep its fingers and toes in the dike,” in large part because “many researchers in other parts of the world do not depend on the agency for grants."

The Sri Lankan study is the fourth epidemiological study in the last 14 months to report an abortion-breast cancer link. The three other studies have come out of the U.S., China and Turkey.  Louise Brinton, a NCI branch chief, served as co-author in the U.S. study in which she and her colleagues admitted that "...induced abortion and oral contraceptive use were associated with increased risk of breast cancer." The authors cited a statistically significant 40% increased risk.

Find the abstract for the Sri Lanka study here.


See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

National Cancer Institute Researcher Admits Abortion Breast Cancer Link
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jan/10010706.html

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