The various credentialed purveyors of health information, such as the Australian Medical Association, the World Health Organisation, the US National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Councils still maintain that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link), this despite the fact that this past February, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the ABC link was published in the prestigious international journal Cancer Causes and Control. The study by Yubei Huang et. al of the Tianjin Medical University in China reviewed and compiled the results of 36 studies from mainland China. Reporting an overall, statistically significant risk increase of 44% (odds ratio or OR = 1.44) for women who've had one or more induced abortions, the Huang study confirmed the results I and my co-authors from Penn State Medical College had reported in 1996 in the British Medical Association's epidemiology journal.
Importantly, the Huang study confirmed the ABC link in a completely different population in a different time frame, as our original 1996 meta-analysis compiled worldwide studies between 1957 and 1996. The Huang meta-analysis also showed a clear dose effect, i.e., women with two or more abortions showed a risk increase of 76%, and those with three or more abortions showed a risk increase of 89%. In epidemiology, when increased exposure to the putative risk factor results in a higher risk increase, the factor (abortion in this case) is more likely to be an actual cause of the disease in question (breast cancer in this case).
To those of us who have been studying the ABC link for years, the growing breast cancer epidemic in communist China was an entirely predictable result of the "one-child policy". But the aggressive promotion of abortion has hardly been limited to China, and a veritable tsunami of peer-reviewed, published reports of the predictable epidemic elsewhere is starting to surface from all over Asia. In South Asia alone, at least a dozen studies have appeared (that I know about) just since 2008: nine in India and one each in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
In addition to adding confirmation upon confirmation of the ABC link, the recent South Asian studies provide a different perspective. It is not because of ethnic differences between South Asians and East Asians or Caucasians: The more than half century of research establishing the ABC link provides ample proof that when it comes to breast cancer risk factor, women are women, no matter their ethnicity. But there is a big difference in the baseline lifestyle of Asian women, and this makes a huge difference. Why?
Breast cancer is a multifactorial disease, with many risk factors. Most are related to reproduction and/or female reproductive hormones. Consequently, in the West (like the US), the baseline lifetime risk of breast cancer is high (around 10%) without considering abortion at all. That's because, long before abortion's legalization (and resulting high prevalence), women were taking contraceptive steroids ("the pill"), waiting longer to bear children, having fewer of them, not breast feeding them, and were themselves drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking cigarettes. All of these increase the risk of breast cancer. Add abortion, and the lifetime risk goes up about 30%, from about 10% to about 13%. In epidemiological terms, that is expressed as a relative risk (typically expressed statistically as an odds ratio or a hazard ratio) of 1.3. (I.e., a 30% increased risk; the overall average relative risk we reported in our 1996 review.)
In China, where the baseline risk has been traditionally low, one would expect the average relative risk to be higher, and it is. However, it's not that much higher; an average of 1.44, because marriage and childbearing are restricted until the late 20s and parity is restricted to one or two children. These are substantial risk factors, to which abortion is factored in. Also, abortion is almost always done after the first childbirth, when its effect is smaller. Moreover, abortion is now so common in some parts of China (such as Shanghai) that the ABC link does not show up at all. In fact, another invalid study-because more than two thirds of women in the general population have had an abortion-just popped up in Shanghai this year.
But in South Asia, the traditional woman has (until very recently, and in many places, still currently) married and started having children in her teens, had many children, breastfed them all, never drank, never smoked, never took contraceptive steroids. Consequently, there is not much else to cause breast cancer besides abortion, and the ABC link therefore sticks out like a proverbial sore thumb. So what sort of relative risk numbers are coming out of South Asia? First of all, out of a dozen studies, ALL of them show increased risk, 10 of them with statistical significance. Adding up all the studies from the sub-continent, the average odds ratio comes out to be a whopping 5.54, over a 450% increase in breast cancer risk with abortion! One study in India (West Bengal) reported an odds ratio of 10.66, and one in Bangladesh (East Bengal) reported 20.62, almost a 2,000% increase in risk!
So in case there was any real question of epidemiological studies' being ambiguous about the ABC link, the recent studies from South Asia provide an ideal population in whom to study the effects of abortion on breast cancer risk. And a clearer, stronger connection could hardly be imagined.
And it's simple to ballpark the ultimate effects of such an exposure as abortion on a population of over a billion women in India and China alone-Even one percent of that number is 10 million. And that's just not even including the rest of Asia, where similar results are starting to emerge, as reported in recent studies in Turkey, Armenia, Iran and Kazakhstan. With literally millions of women bound to get breast cancer because of abortion, one wonders what it will take to wake up the medical world to this unfolding tragedy.
Instead, we are treated, in the West, to a great wall of denial from so many recognized authorities on breast cancer risk. My challenge to them is this: Do they think all these brown and yellow people reporting such strong evidence of the ABC link in Asia must be incompetent in epidemiology?