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The Cover-Up

Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Prevention Information Withheld from Women

Flawed Research Used to Discredit ABC Link

Canadian Research Needed

Why the Cover-up

If you were to survey the information available on the risk factors for developing breast cancer, you would learn that 70% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors. Many websites offer information on the known biological and lifestyle risk factors and advise women how to protect themselves from breast cancer. Most well recognized risk factors are related to an increased exposure of breast tissues to estrogen. Induced abortion also leads to an increase in estrogen exposure. Yet, because of the controversial nature of induced abortion, most information sources, from government and cancer agencies, to media, to medical personnel, omit mentioning this preventable risk factor. Women are being kept in the dark about this issue, and are paying for this imposed censorship with their very lives.

Risk Factors

Well-recognized Risk Factors:

• age
• genetics
• family history
• early menarche or late menopause
• obesity
• high-fat diet
• hormone replacement therapy
• use of oral contraceptives
• delayed first full-term pregnancy
• nulliparity /or childlessness

Unconfirmed Risk factors

• use of underwire bras
• breast implants
• anti-perspirants,
• eating French fries between the ages of 3 to 5 years of age

Obvious Risk Factor that is Ignored

There is one risk factor that is repeatedly ignored, which could account for a large percentage of the "unexplained" cases of breast cancer: induced abortion. It is left out of the debate even though over 50 scientific studies have documented the association in medical journals, the first as early as 1957. For almost 50 years, evidence of the link between abortion and breast cancer has surfaced in medical literature worldwide but has yet to be seriously considered by the mainstream medical and scientific communities. This is unconscionable.

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Breast Cancer Prevention Information Withheld from Women

Women are constantly being warned to watch their diets, limit their alcohol consumption, keep their weight down, quit smoking and breastfeed their babies, but are not told about the single most avoidable risk factor of breast cancer: induced abortion. Before consenting to have an abortion, women deserve to be told the truth about the procedure. Some women may choose not to have an abortion because of the implicated health risks. Of course, not all women who have abortions will develop breast cancer later in life; however, anyone who has undergone the procedure deserves information on the link and should be encouraged to seek regular, early screening for breast cancer. Early detection and diagnosis leads to a better outcome and a better chance for a full recovery. Women deserve the opportunity and legal right to make fully informed choices about their health and lives.

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Flawed Research Used to Discredit ABC Link

Many organizations which have chosen not to disclose abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer either cite studies that are seriously flawed, or attribute increased breast cancer risk following abortion to "reporting bias," a theory which has been tested many times and discounted. The US National Cancer Institute which denies the link between abortion and breast cancer is often quoted as well. However, the National Cancer Institute took this position in 2003 after a “workshop” of invited experts in which the evidence supporting the ABC link was not allowed to be presented.

A review of the flawed studies follows:

2004 Lancet article

A major review (“collaborative reanalysis”) of the abortion/breast cancer (ABC) link data which was published in the Lancet in 2004 claimed to have disproved the ABC link. However, the study by Valerie Beral and colleagues of the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer omitted for non-scientific reasons 15 studies showing the ABC link, i.e.:

a. “principal investigators ... could not be traced”
b. “original data could not be retrieved”
c. “researchers declined to take part in the collaboration”
d. “principal investigators judged their own information on induced abortion to be unreliable” (even though they had gone through peer review and been published) or
e. no reason at all.

A combination of all the inappropriately excluded studies show an 80% increased risk of breast cancer following induced abortion. Despite the conclusion of the Lancet “reanalysis” that abortions “do not increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer”, the study only achieved this result after the illicit exclusion noted above, and only after comparing women having an abortion to their “never having had that pregnancy”. “Never having had that pregnancy” is not an option for a pregnant woman!!

Danish study

Many public health authorities still refer to a 1997 study on women in Denmark, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as disproving the ABC link, because the study was so large (1.5 million women including over 300,000 abortions and over 10,000 cases of breast cancer) and because it relied on medical records of abortions (rather than patient interviews or questionnaires). However, the Danish study has since been discredited, because:

a. it misrepresented the year of abortion’s legalization in Denmark at 1973 (instead of 1939), which resulted in
b. the misclassification of 60,000 women who had legal abortions as not having had any abortions.
c. it used breast cancer diagnoses beginning in 1968 even though it only included abortions from 1973 onward, thus violating the most fundamental rule of scientific research, i.e., cause must precede effect, thus further misclassifying women in the study and further underestimating the effect of abortion.
d. it actually did find a significant effect of abortion, showing risk increased with increased gestational age at abortion, such that women with abortion beyond 18 weeks gestation were at almost double the risk, but the authors did not include these findings among their “conclusions”.

For more information see resources listed at the end of the section Reporting Bias.

Reporting Bias

Many public health authorities dismiss the majority of evidence which does show the ABC link, as flawed because of something called “reporting bias” ( aka “response bias”or “recall bias”). This theory assumes that women with breast cancer will report their abortion history more accurately in an interview or on a questionnaire, compared to healthy “control” women, who would be more likely to lie about their abortions. Hence, some only accept the findings of studies based on data collected before anyone got breast cancer (called prospective data, as opposed to retrospective data). However, the reporting bias theory has been tested many times and found not to exist in ABC link research.

The only study that ever claimed to have direct evidence in favor of the reporting bias hypothesis (a 1991 study by a Swedish, World Health Organization group) compared interview data with medical records on the same Swedish women. However, they found significant evidence of reporting bias only when assuming that breast cancer patients had “over-reported” abortions, i.e., reported having had abortions that had never actually taken place! This preposterous assumption of “over-reporting” was retracted in a published letter in 1998, by the group that had originally proposed it.

Please see the following articles for more information on these studies and arguments used to discredit the ABC link.

Abortion and Breast Cancer: The Link That Won't Go Away - by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi

The Science, Studies and Sociology of the Abortion Breast Cancer Link - by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi

Induced Abortion as an Independent Risk Factor for Breast Cancer: A Critical Review of Recent Studies Based on Prospective Data - by Dr. Joel Brind

The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link Revisited - by Angela Lanfranchi

The Abortion-Breast Cancer Connection - by Dr. Joel Brind

The Corruption of Science by Ideology - by Edward J. Furton

Also visit www.abortionbreastcancer.com for a more complete overview of The Cover-up.

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Canadian Research Needed

Many attempts have been made to reveal the fact that a link between induced abortion and breast cancer both exists, and is clearly demonstrated by numerous statistically significant studies. In addition, a number of articles and letters have been published explaining the flawed reasoning cited by those who claim that the evidence is inconclusive. Yet, governments, cancer research organizations, the media and abortion rights advocacy groups continue to ignore the association or downplay the risk. Women’s lives and health are being affected by this attempt to cover-up the evidence. Women need to have access to all the information available so they can make fully informed decisions about their health.

Failure to warn women considering abortion about the undisputed link between abortion and breast cancer violates any reasonable standard of informed consent. That is why, in every instance in which failure to warn about the abortion breast cancer link in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff has won a substantial settlement: one case in Australia in 2002 (settled out of court), one in Philadelphia in 2003 (settled out of court), and one in Portland, Oregon in 2005 (adjudicated in favor of the plaintiff by the court when the respondent admitted its liability and agreed to pay damages).

Canadian women need a concerted effort by Health Canada and organizations dedicated to cancer research and prevention to establish a Canadian study on the link between induced abortion and breast cancer. LifeCanada and its members believe that by using government health care records a definitive study could be conducted. Canada is in a unique position to study this association since it has provided tax-funded abortions to women for over thirty-five years. A study based on health insurance payment records would contribute greatly to the debate and could not be accused of a reporting bias since the medical history would be gleaned from government payment records and not from women themselves.

To date, Health Canada and the Canadian cancer research institutes either ignore the abortion breast cancer risk or try to downplay it by saying there is no conclusive evidence. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada list all the known risks yet make no mention of the abortion/breast cancer link. (see http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ccdpc-cpcmc/bc-cds/publications/reduce_e.html and www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/breast-sein_e.html)

Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society lists abortion in its section “Factors not associated with breast cancer” and claims that in the case of “abortion or miscarriage: many studies examining this relationship have had major weaknesses”. (http://info.cancer.ca/E/CCE/cceexplorer.asp?tocid=10)

This comment from the Canadian Cancer Society is quite surprising since their own website says they are “committed to providing information about how to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer. We use the best available scientific evidence and the precautionary principle to develop this information. The precautionary principle states:

“When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”” ( http://www.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3172_10139__langId-en,00.html)

Not providing the information about the ABC link seems to go against the Canadian Cancer Society’s own precautionary principle. The Canadian Cancer Society is seen as an authoritative and reliable source for cancer information. Since it possesses the public trust, it has a responsibility to provide complete and accurate information. Only then can women make truly informed decisions about their health.

The National Cancer Institute of Canada

The National Cancer Institute of Canada, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and The Terry Fox Foundation, boasts about being the “longest-standing and most prestigious cancer research organization devoted to advancing cancer control.” Yet, it makes no mention of the link between abortion and breast cancer.

In 2007, an estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die of it. Last year, it was estimated that 22,200 would be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 would die. Fewer women now die of the disease but unfortunately the number of women afflicted with breast cancer continues to rise. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian women, accounting for an estimated 30% of all cancer cases. With the high incidence of breast cancer affecting Canadian women shouldn’t the link between abortion and breast cancer be an area of concern worthy of investigation and research by the National Cancer Institute of Canada?

Childbirth by Choice

Abortion rights organizations also deny the link between abortion and breast cancer. The website of the organization Childbirth by Choice says:

“What women can safely be told is that a review of all of the studies regarding any link between abortion and breast cancer shows no credible link.” (http://www.cbctrust.com/breastcancer.php)

HealthCastle.com

A website which provides health information offers the following reassurance:

“Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk
Delaying a first full term pregnancy, or not becoming pregnant at all, increases a woman's chance of developing breast cancer. A spontaneous or induced abortion does not independently increase a woman's chance of developing breast cancer. Prolonged lactation (breast feeding) seems to offer a weak protection from breast cancer.” (http://www.healthcastle.com/cancer_general_breastrisk.shtml)

It is quite obvious that a pregnant woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy by having an induced abortion is “delaying a first full term pregnancy.” It is undisputed that a pregnant woman who chooses abortion will have a higher long-term risk of developing breast cancer than if she chooses not to have an abortion. That is because full-term pregnancy (i.e., a pregnancy that lasts at least 32 weeks) leaves a woman with breast tissue (lobules) which have been matured during the third trimester (i.e., capable of producing milk), and which are therefore cancer-resistant. Therefore, she has fewer places for cancer to form in her breasts than she had before she got pregnant.

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Why the cover-up?

It may seem illogical to many people that there would be a deliberate attempt to ignore and suppress information and research that links abortion to an increased risk of breast cancer.

For more than two decades, women and women’s issues have been centre stage in Canada. Breast cancer and breast cancer research have very high visibility and support across the country. There are several Canadian groups focused exclusively on breast cancer— the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and the CURE Foundation. In addition to these there are other agencies, like the Canadian Cancer Society, Health Canada, the National Cancer Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which include breast cancer in their field of study. Many private companies and organizations in Canada work to raise awareness and money for breast cancer.

And yet, none of them mention abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer. Several mention that delayed child birth can be a risk factor for breast cancer but they don’t make the obvious connection that abortion delays child birth. They completely ignore its other effect: the termination of a pregnancy leaving immature undifferentiated breast tissue which is then vulnerable to cancer.

It is not because the evidence is weak. Health Canada warns women to minimize their exposure to pesticides “although there is no compelling evidence suggesting that exposure to pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals is related to breast cancer risk.” Health Canada’s list of risk factors includes those which have consistently been shown to increase risk and those which have “less consistently found to increase breast cancer risk.” Surely abortion, which has been found to increase risk in over 50 studies since 1957 should be included in this second list and a comprehensive study be launched to investigate based on Canadian health records.

So why would all these groups engage in a cover-up?

We believe there are three reasons. The first, which would apply to government agencies and departments and to medical associations, is liability. Because abortion is paid for by governments using tax dollars, politicians and government officials have implicitly endorsed abortion as a healthy treatment for women. In many cases, government officials have explicitly stated that abortion is medically necessary. Doctors and their professional organizations which endorse and recommend abortion as an appropriate treatment for pregnancy could face lawsuits if the link is recognized. This would be similar to lawsuits over thalidomide, breast implants and tainted blood. Already in the United States, women have won two lawsuits against abortion providers who failed to disclose the breast cancer risk to patients before they agreed to an abortion.

The second reason is political and affects governments, doctors and the many charitable and volunteer organizations which work very hard to promote awareness and research on breast cancer. By political, we don’t mean partisan politics. We mean what is acceptable or politically correct in Canada.

Abortion, or more specifically, criticism or even questioning of abortion, is simply not a topic for polite discussion in this country. Our politicians, elites and our media will not tolerate any challenge to the status quo on abortion. The status quo position is that abortion is legal, healthy and supported by most Canadians. Our politicians tell us that we have “social peace” on abortion. The media tell us that Canadians are “pro-choice.” Anyone or any group that challenges or disagrees with that position is described as “fringe”, “far right” or “fundamentalist.” In fact, Gallup Canada, which has polled Canadians on abortion since the early seventies, has consistently found that over 60% of Canadians think there should be some legal restrictions on abortions. Polls over the past three years by Leger and Environics have also shown that two-thirds of Canadians think human life should be protected before birth.

During the 2004 federal election, Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, after being repeatedly pressured by a Globe and Mail reporter for a comment on abortion, said that he thought it might be good to ensure that women considering abortion received counseling from a third party, that is, not the abortion provider, before they consented. Mr. Merrifield and the Conservatives were criticized and hounded over the comment. Media reports said that Mr. Merrifield wanted to restrict abortion and editorials talked about re-criminalizing abortion. The reaction was over the top and ridiculous.

In April of 2005 the Globe and Mail newspaper ran a column by Heather Mallick criticizing the Bank of Montreal for its affinity credit card program with LifeCanada, a national pro-life educational group. Ms. Mallick was appalled that a bank would associate with an “anti-abortion group” which she believes suppresses freedoms. Following publication of the column, the bank decided not to renew the contract with LifeCanada.

Any group that decided to warn women about the risk between breast cancer and abortion would have to be prepared to face the wrath of abortion advocates like Heather Mallick and others in the media. Many large corporations have signed on as donors and sponsors for breast cancer research. They might reconsider their involvement when columnists and women’s groups launch a campaign to boycott groups that acknowledge the ABC risk. Corporations are reluctant to involve themselves in anything that might create negative publicity.

Finally, feminists have been very active in the campaign to increase awareness and funding for research into women’s health and breast cancer in particular. Most feminists are “pro-choice” and actively promote and support abortion as a right. We propose they have been and will continue to be reluctant to admit that there are serious health risks associated with abortion.

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