Does Abortion Cause Breast Cancer?
One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point during her life. It is the most feared cancer among women. The far right has capitalized on this fear, telling women that abortion greatly increases their risk of breast cancer, and asserting that abortion clinics lie to women about this risk. Abortion does not cause breast cancer. Almost all major studies on the topic suggest that abortion improves health compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. Here’s what you need to know about the abortion-breast cancer link.
The Abortion-Breast Cancer Theory
Anti-choicers have been telling women that abortion causes breast cancer for decades. In 1994, their cause got support from a study which purported to find that having an abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by 50 percent.
There were many problems with that study, and subsequent research undermines its data. Even if it were true, however, the claims that the far right has derived from the study are false. A 50 percent increase in risk does not mean that a person has a 50 percent chance of getting breast cancer. The 50 percent figure is a measure of relative risk–the risk of developing breast cancer after an abortion compared to after never having one. A person’s absolute risk is their individual risk, and will usually remain quite small even if their risk increases by 50 percent.
Debunking the Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer
Numerous studies have since tested the notion that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer:
- A 1997 analysis that assessed a cohort of 1.5 million women and more than 370,000 who had abortions found no absolute increase in breast cancer risk following abortion.
- A 2004 study of 83,000 women similarly found that abortion did not increase the risk of breast cancer. That study also suggested a strong bias for retrospective studies that ask breast cancer patients about abortion history. Specifically, these patients are more likely to disclose an abortion because they believe abortion is linked to breast cancer. This can taint the results.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have both issued opinions indicating that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
The design of certain abortion studies may increase the likelihood of finding certain correlations. When researchers appropriately control their data, the apparent causal relationship between abortion and breast cancer usually disappears.
Abortion is one of the most well-studied medical procedures precisely because of the far right’s lies. The overwhelming volume of research shows that abortion is safe, and far safer than giving birth. Choosing a real abortion clinic means you’ll get quality service and exceptional aftercare.
We can help you find a real clinic in your area. Begin your search here.