By Joel Brind, Ph.D
Just this past week, NRL News readers learned of a bombshell—a systematic review and meta-analysis of abortion-breast cancer studies in China, which reported a 44% overall increase in breast cancer among women who’d had any abortions.
I described it as a “game-changer” for several reasons, including the size of the increase; that it confirmed an analysis of studies conducted back in 1996 by myself and colleagues; that the risk increased the more abortions a woman had; and because it dismantled the most popular pro-abortion defense against the link between abortion and breast cancer (the ABC link).
Like clockwork, the pro-abortion backlash was up online before the week was out. On Friday, Abby Ohlheiser who often writes for Slate.com, posted a hit piece on thewire.com. www.thewire.com/national/2013/12/inside-faulty-science-abortion-breast-cancer-link/355850/
Consulting “an epidemiologist” and relying mainly on an earlier Slate.com piece purporting to debunk the ABC link) from slate.com, Ohlheiser trotted out the usual false denial arguments. Those included the “recall bias” argument which asserts that due to social stigma that is attached to having an induced abortion, healthy women are more likely to deny prior abortions in their medical history study questionnaire than are women who’ve developed breast cancer.
Hence, the theory goes, it would erroneously appear that breast cancer is more frequent among women who’ve had an abortion. I have shown in numerous articles written for NRL News Today why that simply is not true. Ohlheiser also maintained that the undeniable increase in breast cancer was “likely due to more sophisticated early detection methods that coincidentally gained traction during the post Roe v. Wade period.”
Clearly, Ohlheiser’s purpose was to reinforce the official “truth” that there is no ABC link. She summarily states: “Virtually no reputable scientific institution endorses the ABC link.” Really?
In response, I submitted the following comment to be posted after Ohlheiser’s article:
“Abortion and breast cancer: The problem isn’t faulty science, rather politicized science and faulty journalism.
First off, Abby Ohlheiser—not a scientist herself—addresses the issue “from a standpoint of scientific consensus.” Consensus—i.e., majority rule—is entirely a political concept. And in fact, significant scientific discoveries almost always go against the scientific consensus (which even scientists call the “prevailing dogma”) of the day.
When the subject has anything to do with abortion—or more specifically, any challenge to the prevailing dogma of “safe abortion”–you can safely bet that the majority of establishment figures in universities, medical societies, voluntary organizations, and government health ministries will side with the “safe abortion” crowd. So to get to the heart of such a politically loaded scientific question, one needs to check out primary sources.
If one really examines the so-called “high quality studies” that do not show the abortion-breast cancer link (ABC link), and also the critiques I and my colleagues have published in the same, peer-reviewed journals over the years (since 1996), one can appreciate the scandalous abuse of science that has permeated the most prestigious journals in recent years. Fortunately, over the last 5 years, lots of new studies documenting the reality of the ABC link have appeared from around the world in international, open-access journals, largely from Asia. It is indeed ironic that many of these studies reporting a significant ABC link have been conducted in countries such as Iran and mainland China, whereas the Western journals have largely presented a great wall of denial.
Fortunately, some facts that undergird the reality of the ABC are quite easily accessible. Just this year, for example, a study in India found that women who’d had any abortions were at a more than 6-fold increased risk of breast cancer (i.e., a 500% risk increase). A study from Bengla Desh reported a more than 20-fold (2,000 %) increased risk.
Just a couple more points need to be made here, by way of correction. Ohlheiser states that “the ABC link idea first got going in the 1980s, in the wake of Roe v. Wade.” In fact, the first major study was a nationwide study in Japan, published in the prestigious Japanese “Journal of Cancer Research,” in 1957—long before Roe v. Wade. That study found about a 3-fold risk increase among women with any abortions, and it certainly had nothing to do with “more sophisticated early detection methods.”
Also, it is a great disservice to belittle the term “epidemic” by setting it off in quotes as if it is not real. Five years ago, a highly prestigious team from the US and China published an NIH-funded study in the Journal of the “National Cancer Institute in which they flatly concluded: “China is on the cusp of a breast cancer epidemic.” Of course, these authors never mentioned the word “abortion,” rather blaming “shifting reproductive trends.” This is really code for China’s “One Child Policy” with abortion (and not as a matter of choice) its centerpiece.
Finally, Ms. Ohlheiser can’t seem to find “any room for debate in the data” on abortion and breast cancer. Nice try, to shut off debate on a real, man-made epidemic that has devastated the lives of so many women in the West, and now threatens the lives of so many millions more in Asia. Add to that the fact that the majority of abortions in Asia are of females, and one might start to reconsider just who is waging the real war on women.
As of this writing—more than 24 hours after submitting my comment, it is still “awaiting moderation”.
Editor’s note. Joel Brind, Ph.D., is a Professor of Human Biology and Endocrinology at Baruch College, City University of New York; Co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Somerville, NJ; and a frequent contributor to NRL News Today.