The association between abortion and breast cancer has been an on-going issue for many years, proving to be a very challenging area to study. Scientists and medical experts have done an extensive research on this matter and the exploration produced conflicting theories and different views.
With breast cancer being the most common (aside from skin cancer) and the second leading cancer killer in women, the topic of abortion linked to breast cancer has raised an alarm especially since the issue of abortion breed passionate standpoints from the public.
To get the facts straight on this particular subject, we spoke with one of the doctors from the Abortion Sydney website. Here are her views:
Does Abortion cause breast cancer?
Emphatically, no. There are many different theories as to what is behind the rising incidence of breast cancer, but abortion is definitely not up there. Any research which has found an increased risk for breast cancer due to abortion are underpowered or of flawed design. A good summary of the research that looks at this subject can be found at www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer.
Suggestions regarding what could be causing the worldwide increased incidence of breast cancer include some kind of environmental hazard or toxins related to our everyday lives, such as plastic water bottles, hair dye, skin creams and moisturisers, but there is no definite link to anything. Diet may play a part; intensive agriculture practices where animals fed with hormones and antibiotics may filter into the food chain with the consumer unaware of the risks. There is plenty of plausible theories regarding lifestyle or environmental carcinogens which might be causing cancer, but it is difficult to establish, even with the best quality research, whether there is a cause and effect relationship.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Family history is a good indicator of genetic risk; if a first degree relative (parent or sibling) has had breast cancer, then the risk is increased. If only one second degree relative, (aunt, cousin, grandparent) has had breast cancer, then that is probably not significant. If you think you have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, then you should arrange a consultation with your GP who can refer you to a local clinical genetics unit, where they can do a formal risk assessment and provide investigations, including screening.
Some families may carry the BRCA gene, which has a high association with developing breast cancer. If you can afford the test, then you might want to get a genetic test for the BRCA gene if you suspect you might have it.
Hormonal risk factors:
Women who have an early start to their periods, haven’t been pregnant, have a late menopause (over 55) or who have not breast fed a baby appear to have a slightly increased risk, probably because they have been exposed to circulating hormones for a longer time. The evidence for oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement, suggests that there is a very slightly increased risk for from taking these medications, but these medications can have a number of health benefits too, such as increased bone density, so the pros and cons need to be carefully weighed. Your GP is a good source of information and advice about these medications.
Other risk factors for breast cancer:
Increased alcohol consumption and getting older are also risk factors for breast cancer.
Termination of pregnancy, or abortion has some small risks associated (mainly related to the procedure itself), as any medical intervention, but it is generally very safe.