Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Abortion and Breast Cancer

Michael Coren interviews Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgeon from New Jersey. Women need to know this but they are not being told. And the Canadian Breast Cancer Society refuses to acknowledge this link. This is political correctness at the expense of women's health. As Dr. Lanfranchi says "it is just wrong to keep this information from women."

"For teenagers 18 and under, who had abortions between 9 and 24 weeks, their risk went up 800 percent, which is a huge risk."


Rebecca said...

Hmm, I have to admit that this is one tactic that really bothers me. Citing a statistic that applies to, as in your example, only "teenagers under 18"(which is a not insignificant but still obviously very small group) is misleading, and it has also been obviously chosen because the increased incidence in that group is the highest and therefore, best supports the point that is being attempted to be made.

The actual statistics on breast cancer and abortion are not so clear, overall, as that. I once refereed a paper under consideration for publication that was attempting to draw a strong correlation between induced abortion and incidence of breast cancer in various European countries. While I was sympathetic to the point they were trying to make (and I indicated that in my review), the methodology they were using was highly suspicious and didn't stand up mathematically. However, I am sure that I could have been accused of having rejected the paper because I had a pro-choice agenda. (and I am not even pro-choice!)

Problem is, there *aren't* a lot of objectively done studies showing an effect, or no effect, at all. I don't know how ethical such studies would even be. One thing that seems like it would be simple would be to examine the change in incidence of breast cancer among Chinese women since the advent of the one-child policy and hence, far more frequent induced abortions. You could at least do *some* sort of retrospective population study there, although of course you would have to control for genetic factors, etc.

As well as my issue with the statistical analyses of this problem, I also have trouble with the fact that the abortion-breast cancer link (if there is one -- better to look at the Pill, if you ask me) is used a bit to bully and frighten women. Not fair, not nice, and truly? Not effective. Think about a woman making the choice to have an abortion -- probably in a panic, probably not thinking long-term, probably unlikely to be affected by the threat of possible health damage far down the line. Instead, it just seems like bullying to me. Now, if the evidence were rock-solid, "bullying" might be justified, but it isn't and it's not.

Best to just stick with the incontrovertible medical facts: the fetus is clearly human from the very beginning. As Dr. Nathanson said, THAT science absolutely supports the pro-life movement. Now someone just needs to make a blockbuster movie about his life and work; that might have an effect on some people.

Sorry for the comment that was longer than your entire post.

Julie Culshaw said...

Thank you for the comment, it is fair and informative. I would hope that the conclusions of Dr. Lanfranchi would be used, not to bully women into not having abortions, but into persuading doctors to be more circumspect about doing abortions on everyone and anyone. I am sure that the area of "informed consent" could be better handled for instance.
Also, doctors should be made aware that abortion is not the "easy fix" they often seem to think it is for women. That abortion comes with its own set of consequences, and it really does not have an "undo" button.

Your point about China is very valid and I have wondered myself why the stats there are not used more. Perhaps they are not made available for precisely those reasons?

Also, when I have my annual mammogram, I have wanted to ask why one of the questions I have to answer is not "have you had an induced abortion?" It is never asked, and it would seem to me that it would be a very valuable source of information. The detection of breast cancer and the history of an induced abortion would be pretty darn clear if only they would ask the question. But I guess that it is not politically correct.

I have not had the courage to ask the question. Perhaps next mammogram, I will.