Health

Out of India Comes Yet More Evidence that Abortion Causes Breast Cancer

So why is the World Health Organization still in denial?

WEB Woman India John Isaac World Bank

John Isaac / World Bank

My Canadian friend could not contain himself.

“These new studies out of India NUKE the Abortion-Breast-Cancer deniers,” Brent Rooney told me gleefully. “They simply NUKE them!”

Looking at the data Brent had sent me from his office in Vancouver, British Columbia, I could see why he was so excited. He had found twelve recent studies in the medical literature, all carried out on the Indian subcontinent, that looked into whether there was a link between prior abortions and breast cancer. And all twelve found that women who had had prior abortions were at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Let me repeat that: each and every one of these studies done on the Indian subcontinent suggested a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Here are the actual numbers Brent sent me:

                   Author                          Year          Odds Ratio      95% Cl or p value

Rai et al.        2008     2.21    p  < 0.05
Kaur et al.      2011     2.79    p  < 0.001
Lodha et al.          2011     1.91    p = 0.214 (not sig.)
Santhy et al.                2012     1.22    not significant
Balasubrahmanian et al   2013     2.08    1.15 – 3.75
Bhadoria et al.       2013     6.26    4.16 – 9.41
Kamath et al.             2013     5.75    1.27 – 25.99
Roy et al.         2014   10.66    p < 0.0001
Takalkar et al.        2014     2.8   1.82 – 5.12
De Silva ( Sri Lanka)    2010    3.42   1.75 – 6.66
Raza (Pakistan)     2011    6.80   p < 0.05
Jabeen (Bangladesh)    2013  20.62       data not shown

Before your eyes glaze over, focus on the third column, the “Odds Ratio.” This is the key indicator here because it represents the odds of developing breast cancer if you have had a prior abortion (compared to the odds of developing breast cancer if you haven’t). Note that all twelve studies have an Odds Ratio greater than 1.0, indicating increased risk.

But get this: the average Odds Ratio for these twelve studies is 5.54. That means that the breast cancer risk for Indian women who have had prior abortions is five and a half times that of women who have not. Another way to put it is that you have a 554% increased risk of developing breast cancer if you have had a prior induced abortion. That’s pretty scary, isn’t it?

Abortion-rights activists, who like to argue that abortion has no lasting health risks, will find it very, very difficult to explain away such numbers. It’s not surprising that in recent years, when the topic of the ABC link comes up, many offer perfunctory denials and then quickly change the subject.

Another reason why these findings are so important is that women in India and neighboring countries are simply ideal subjects for studies of the ABC link. They marry early, do not use the pill, have multiple pregnancies, and breastfeed their babies. In other words, all of the other major risk factors for breast cancer are … absent.

Many women in countries like the United States, Australia, and Great Britain, on the other hand, all engage in other behaviors—besides abortion—that can cause breast cancer. They marry late or not at all. They use oral contraceptives when young and go on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) when older. They have only one or no full-term pregnancies. And they do not breastfeed.

When these “confounding factors”—as they are called—are present, they make it difficult to sort out just how much induced abortions raise a woman’s lifetime breast cancer risk.

But they are largely absent in India, so the ABC link comes through loud and clear.  

In fact,the  ABC link these Indian studies confirm is stronger than other risk factors for breast cancer that we know of, such as advanced age, having a family history of breast cancer, or being childless.