National Cancer Institute on Abortion

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The Summary Report from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's workshop, "Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer," reached contradictory conclusions with respect to the link between abortion and breast cancer. It acknowledges one of the two breast cancer risks associated with abortion - the protective effect of a full term pregnancy - but then contradicts itself by stating that "Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk." In 2010, LifeNews reported that a National Cancer Institute researcher admitted there was a link between abortion and breast cancer.[1]

The Summary Report acknowledges that increased childbearing, starting at an early age, and increased duration of breastfeeding reduce risk.[2] Childbearing helps protect women from breast cancer because it provides the only means for a woman to mature her cancer-vulnerable tissue into cancer-resistant tissue.

The Recognized Risk of Abortion - Loss of the Protective Effect of Childbearing

Breast tissue consists of lobules (milk glands and a duct) and supportive tissue. The childless woman's breasts overwhelmingly consist of primitive, immature, cancer-vulnerable lobules called Type 1 and 2 lobules.[3] Approximately 95% of all breast cancers originate in these lobules. View Type 1 and 3 lobules here.

The earlier a woman has her first full term pregnancy, the sooner she matures her Type 1 and 2 lobules into cancer-resistant Type 4 lobules, and the lower her lifetime breast cancer risk is. See graphs: [2] The more children she has, the more cancer-resistant tissue she acquires.

Consequently, there is no debate in the scientific community that the young woman who has an abortion has a greater breast cancer risk than the one who has a baby.

However, a young woman who has an abortion at age 19 and then has her first full-term pregnancy at age 25 is at no greater risk than a young woman who has no abortion but has her first full-term pregnancy at age 25.

The Debated Risk of Abortion - The Independent Link

Scientists continue to debate only one breast cancer risk associated with abortion - the "independent link," which would mean that abortion leaves women with more cancer vulnerable lobules than they had before they became pregnant. No scientist has challenged or refuted the biological reasons for an independent link.

Starting early in a normal pregnancy (not most miscarriages), the woman is overexposed to the hormone estrogen, a known carcinogen. Estrogen climbs 2,000% by the end of the first trimester. Estrogen causes her breasts to grow, and it stimulates her lobules to multiply. At the conclusion of the first trimester, she has developed an increased number of cancer-vulnerable Type 1 and 2 lobules.

During the last months of pregnancy, another process (differentiation) protects her from the adverse effects of estrogen. Under the influence of other hormones, her lobules are matured into Type 3 lobules and then cancer-resistant Type 4 lobules. At the end of a full term pregnancy, 85% of her lobules are Type 4 and 15% remain cancer-vulnerable. She's left with more cancer-resistant lobules than she had before she became pregnant.[4]

The unborn child produces the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). HCG and the hormone hPL (human placental lactogen) help mature the mother's breast lobules into cancer-resistant Type 4 lobules. HCG prompts the ovaries to make inhibin, a hormone that suppresses cancer.


Most miscarriages don't raise breast cancer risk. Most miscarriages are first trimester miscarriages. These tend to be abnormal pregnancies, and the hormone level is insufficient to maintain pregnancy.

Premature Birth

Research shows that women who have premature deliveries before 32 weeks of pregnancy more than double their breast cancer risk.[5][6][7] A premature birth is biologically the same event as an abortion.

A report in July 2006 from the Institute of Medicine (an organization of the National Academies of Science) listed "prior first trimester abortion" as an "immutable medical risk factor" for premature birth.[8] Premature birth increases the risk of cerebral palsy for children and neonatal deaths. Premature births in the U.S. climbed 40% - from 8.9% to 12.5% - between 1980 and 2004.[9]

Two Other Breast Cancer Risks - Oral Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy - Support an Independent Link

The World Health Organization listed combined (estrogen plus progestin) oral contraceptives and combined hormone replacement therapy as "Group 1 carcinogens" in July 2005.[10][11] These findings provide additional biological support for an abortion-breast cancer link because the biological basis for all three breast cancer risks is the same.

Epidemiological Research

Two reviews support an independent link between abortion and increased breast cancer risk.[12][13] A review of 10 studies that are being widely used to deny a link between abortion and increased breast cancer risk was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons in 2005. It demonstrated that the ten studies "embody many serious weaknesses and flaws..." and they "do not invalidate the large body of previously published studies that establish induced abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer."[14]

Other investigators - Edward Furton, Ph.D., editor of the journal Ethics and Medics, and R. L. Walley, Executive Director and Honorary Research Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at MaterCare International - argue that "shoddy research" is being conducted by scientists who strongly favor abortion. [Furton E. Editorial. The corruption of science by ideology. Ethics and Medics (Dec. 2004) Vol. 29, No. 11, p. 1-2. Available at:] [Personal e-mail message from R. L. Walley. FRCSC., FRCOG., MPH sent to Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer. Available at:]

Eight Medical Groups Recognize the Independent Link

Eight medical groups recognize the independent link between abortion and breast cancer. [3] Another group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has called on doctors to inform women about this "highly plausible" relationship.

Legal Issues

Andrew Schlafly, general counsel for that medical group and the major contributor to this article on Conservapedia, wrote an article in 2005 for its journal warning doctors that three women (two Americans, one Australian) successfully sued their abortion providers for neglecting to disclose the risks of breast cancer and emotional harm, although none of the women had developed the disease. [Schlafly A. Legal implications of a link between abortion and breast cancer. J Am Phys Surgeons 2005;10:11-14. Available at:]

Schlafly has invited post-abortive women (with or without breast cancer) to send their legal questions to him at (with "abortion" in the subject line). [Schlafly A. "Had an abortion? Call an attorney," Celebrate Life, September/October 2005. Available at:]

Medical Elite Privately Say Abortion Causes Breast Cancer, but It's 'Too Political' to Discuss Publicly

In a lawsuit filed against Planned Parenthood Federation of American in California Superior Court for falsely advertising the alleged safety of abortion, Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., a New Jersey breast surgeon, declared under oath that members of the nation's medical elite are aware that abortion causes breast cancer. However, they refuse to say so publicly because it is ‘too political.' She said to the court:

"In September 1999 I wrote a letter to the president and each of the board members of my medical society, the American Society of Breast Surgeons. My letter … said that doctors… need to get this information (about abortion and breast cancer) to the public, and asked that an expert be invited to address the Society on this issue. Some time later I called the president, Dr. Rachel Simmons, and she told me, apologetically, that she presented it to the board but they felt it was 'too political.'

"In March 2000 I attended the Miami Breast Cancer Conference…. I asked the conference director, Dan Osman, M.D. if he knew there was a link between abortion and breast cancer. I was stunned when he said that he did. I asked him why there couldn't be a presentation about it at the meeting. He said it was 'too political.'

"Over the past three or four years, I have spoken with many authorities and people in a position to be well informed. Some have been straightforward and said they know it is a risk factor but felt it was 'too political' to speak about. Others have been evasive…. Some have been openly hostile…. Some initially hostile doctors … debated it with me and have changed their minds. Some pro-choice doctors have come to agree it is true and do tell their patients about the risk. Some doctors who were initially skeptical have started obtaining a complete reproductive history on their patients and found as I did that … cases of breast cancer in young women are associated with an abortion history…." [15]

Concerned Women For America

The conservative group Concerned Women for America decried the National Cancer Institute's decision regarding the relationship between breast cancer and abortion and believe they ignored an important arguments for the breast cancer and abortion link and states that there are accusations that the National Cancer Institute engaged in misconduct on this issue.[16]


  2. Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop. U.S. National Cancer Institute. Available here.
  3. Lanfranchi A. The science, studies and sociology of the abortion-breast cancer link. Research Bulletin 2005;18:1-8. Available here
  4. Lanfranchi A. The science, studies and sociology of the abortion-breast cancer link. Research Bulletin 2005;18:1-8. Available here.
  5. Melbye M, et al. Preterm delivery and risk of breast cancer. Bri J Cancer 1999;80:609-13.
  6. Hsieh C-c, Wuu J, Lambe M, Trichopoulos D, et al Delivery of premature newborns and maternal breast-cancer risk. Lancet 1999;353-1239.
  7. Vatten LJ, et al. Pregnancy related protection against breast cancer depends on length of gestation. Br J Cancer 2002;87:289-90.
  8. Richard E. Behrman, Adrienne Stith Butler, Editors. Preterm birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention. Committee on Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes. Institute of Medicine. Appendix B, Table 5, p. 519. Available here.
  9. National Center for Health Statistics. Advance report of final natality statistics, 1980. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 31, No. 8, Supp. DHHS Pub. No. (PHS) 83-1120.
  10. Cogliano V, Grosse Y, Baan R, Secretan B, El Ghissassi F. Carcinogenicity of combined oestrogen-progestagen contraceptives and menopausal treatment. Lancet Oncology 2005;6:552-553.
  11. Press Release No. 167, "IARC Monographs Programme Finds Combined Estrogen-Progestogen Contraceptives (the "pill") and Menopausal Therapy Are Carcinogenic to Humans," World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, July 29, 2005. See [1].
  12. Brind J, Chinchilli, VM, Severs WB, Summy-Long J. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health 1996;50:481-496.
  13. Brind J. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: A critical review of recent studies based on prospective data. J Am Phys Surg Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter 2005) 105-110. Available here.
  14. Brind J. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: A critical review of recent studies based on prospective data. J Am Phys Surg Vol. 10, No. 4 (Winter 2005) 105-110. Available here.
  15. Agnes Bernardo et al. v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, et al. Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, 2001, Case No. GIC 772552.