By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, January 21, 2010 ( – The US National Cancer Institute (NIC) has again denied the link between abortion and breast cancer to a Globe and Mail reporter, despite one of their leading researchers being named as co-author on a study that admitted up to a 40 per cent increased risk of breast cancer associated with induced abortion.

In 2003, Louise Brinton, NCI’s chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology branch, was an organizer of the NCI workshop in 2003 that told women it is “well established” that “abortion is not associated with increased breast cancer risk.” Then, in 2009, Brinton was co-author of study, published in April last year by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, in which she admitted that abortion raises breast cancer risk.

The study listed abortion among the “known or suspected risk factors” found to be associated with a 40 per cent increased risk of breast cancer in women under age 45 in the Seattle region. The observed risk elevation found was matter-of-factly reported to be “consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women.”

Despite the admission by one of their leading researchers, the NCI website continues to carry the “well established” claim that there is no connection between abortion and breast cancer.

On January 8 the Globe and Mail’s Gloria Galloway wrote that she received another denial from the NCI when she attempted to receive confirmation on the study. The NCI’s Michael Miller told Galloway in an email, “NCI has no comment on this study.” Instead, Miller forwarded a link to the NCI’s official statement denying the breast cancer link that refers back to the 2003 workshop. Further requests for information, Galloway said, went unanswered.

At the same time, the Washington-based Coalition for Abortion/Breast Cancer has issued a letter to Congress asking that the NCI be called to the carpet for what the coalition says is NCI’s ongoing efforts to ignore or cover up the evidence supporting the link.

“We ask Congress to exercise its proper oversight authority and investigate the US National Cancer Institute’s failure to protect American women by issuing timely warnings about breast cancer risks,” the letter said.

The letter is signed by Karen Malek, the group’s president, Dr. Joel Brind, a professor of endocrinology and deputy chair of Biology and Environmental Sciences at City University of New York, and Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. It says that thousands of women’s lives are put at risk “in part due to confusing and conflicting messages from our own National Cancer Institute.”

The letter states that researchers invited to participate in NCI’s 2003 workshop, despite the claim that it would comprise a “comprehensive review” of the existing data, were explicitly prohibited from reviewing current data demonstrating a link between abortion and breast cancer.

“Women need to be aware that abortion can affect both her breast cancer risk and health of future children,” the letter said. It notes that the NCI website was updated on January 12 this year, after news about the recent study broke, and now includes the claim that “the evidence overall still does not support early termination of pregnancy as a cause of breast cancer.”

“In the face of recent publication of results to the contrary … reported by an NCI Branch Chief Dr. Brinton, this appears disingenuous,” says the coalition’s letter.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the NCI is in direct conflict with its own mission. The NCI is not providing accurate information that would permit women making choices about contraception and abortion to avoid the dangers of the increased risk posed by these exposures, even though they are reported by one of NCI’s top scientists in the field.”

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National Cancer Institute Researcher Admits Abortion Breast Cancer Link