Abortion and Breast Cancer

In February 2003 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) held a meeting whose stated agenda was to evaluate the scientific evidence on the interactions between pregnancy, lactation and breast cancer. Over 100 scientists, including the world's leading experts, were invited to attend along with breast cancer advocates and one anti-choice activist. The presence of this activist along with the exclusion of representatives from reproductive rights and health organizations from the invited participants reveals the untold politics behind the meeting (The National Women's Health Network was able to participate because of our work on breast cancer).

More than five years ago anti-choice activists began a misleading campaign claiming that abortion causes breast cancer. The National Women's Health Network, along with the American Cancer Society and the NCI, evaluated the science on the issue and decided that this claim was unfounded. The NCI published a fact sheet on its website explaining the science and concluding that abortion did not increase the risk of breast cancer. When President Bush took office, suddenly the NCI removed the fact sheet from its website and replaced it with a statement that studies on this topic were inconclusive.

Late last year NCI announced that it would hold a meeting to evaluate the science on this issue. Again. From both a scientific and a political perspective the conclusions were good news for women. Taking into account all of the studies that have been done, and the biology of what happens to the breast during pregnancy, all of the experts at the meeting agreed that there is strong evidence that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

It's likely that anti-choice activists will send criticisms. Supporters of reproductive rights should send in our own comments. Tell the NCI: Now that scientists have agreed that the anti-choice breast cancer claims are false NCI must share this information with women.

Source: Media Release National Women's Health Network

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Abortion and Breast Cancer