(CNSNews.com) - New research conducted by a British statistician showed that abortion is the "best predictor of breast cancer" among seven acknowledged risk factors, though fertility is also useful in anticipating the incidence of the disease.
The study re-confirms what many scientists acknowledge in private but won't mention in public, Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, told Cybercast News Service, because they fear the potential medical liability involved.
Peter Carroll of London's Pension and Population Research Institute reports in "The Breast Cancer Epidemic: Modeling and Forecasts Based on Abortion and Other Risk Factors" that countries with high abortion rates, such as England and Wales, can expect a substantial increase in the number of cases of breast cancer over the next few decades.
The study, which was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons this week, also said that "where abortion rates are low (e.g., Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic), a smaller increase is expected," and in Denmark and Finland - where the rate of abortions is declining - a drop in breast cancer is anticipated.
During his research, Carroll utilized national cancer registration data for female breast cancer incidence in eight European countries - England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland and Denmark - for which there is also comprehensive data on abortion incidence.
The statistician also used the same mathematical model with which in 1997 he accurately forecast the incidence of breast cancer in England and Wales from 1998 to 2004.
In half of the countries examined - England and Wales, Scotland, Finland and Denmark - Carroll found that upper-class and upwardly mobile women had more breast cancer than other women.
While he was unable to explain the phenomenon, the researcher suggested that women pursuing higher education and professional careers often delay marriage and childbearing, and abortions before the birth of a first child are highly carcinogenic.
Carroll interpreted his results by using seven risk factors regarding breast cancer:
An induced abortion leaves breast cells in a state of interrupted hormonal development in which they are more susceptible to cancer;
A low age at first birth is protective to the mother;
Childlessness increases the risk of breast cancer;
A larger number of children (higher fertility) increases protection;
Breastfeeding gives additional protection;
Hormonal contraceptives are conducive to breast cancer; and
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is also conducive to breast cancer.
When contacted for comment on the study, a spokesman for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) directed Cybercast News Service to a page on the NCI Web site that discusses "Abortion, Miscarriage and Breast Cancer Risk."
While noting that "the relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research," the site states that recent studies have "examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found and gathered medical history information rather than simply from self-reports."
As a result, newer research has generated more reliable findings and has "consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk," according to the Web site.
Earlier efforts that suggested abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer "were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results," the NCI site states.
"Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women's histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their 'self-report' rather than on their medical records," the site states.
However, Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, told Cybercast News Service that Carroll's research makes a "strong case" for the link between abortion and breast cancer, because it meets the standards espoused by the NCI and other scientists.
Malec said critics of studies exposing the link often point to what she called "recall bias," which is that women who have breast cancer are forced to be more honest about their medical history, including any abortions they've had.
Carroll bypassed that problem by using national data compiled by health services in other countries, a practice not carried out in the U.S., she said. In addition, researchers regularly use multiple approaches to check for recall bias in their studies.
"It's time for scientists to admit publicly what they already acknowledge privately among themselves - that abortion raises breast cancer risk - and to stop conducting flawed research to protect the medical establishment from massive medical practice lawsuits," Malec added.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, this week's study isn't the first time Carroll has examined the link between abortion and breast cancer.
In December 2001, the researcher issued a report stating that a surge in breast cancer rates in the U.K. and several European countries was most likely attributable to a rise in abortions.
At the time, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called the study "mischief making" whose only purpose was to cause anxiety. "This report should not influence women in making decisions about abortion at difficult times in their life," the organization said.
Make media inquiries or request an interview with Randy Hall.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-brief.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Randy Hall.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.