Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

The Deadly After-Effect of Abortion: Breast Cancer

J. C. Willke MD

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More information on the link between abortion and breast cancer.

A first pregnancy permanently changes the structure of a woman's breasts. Before she is pregnant, her breasts cannot produce milk, as the gland cells are immature and underdeveloped. When she becomes pregnant, estrogen and other hormones flood her system. This results in rapid growth in size, while the internal structure undergoes dramatic change.

Cells, previously dormant, rapidly grow into a system of branching ducts and gland cells capable of producing milk. Once this growth, change and maturing is complete, there is no further significant change the rest of her life. Once mature, the chance of the breast developing cancer is much less.

When these cells are changing and transitional, they are less stable and have much greater potential of becoming cancerous. If she completes her first pregnancy, this unstable period passes and her gland cells mature and stabilize.

But --- if she interrupts her pregnancy, in its early phase, and 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester, she in effect stops the development of the cells at this unstable, transitional phase. It seems apparent that cancerous changes can and do occur more frequently among these transitional cells of a woman who has terminated her pregnancy. If she aborts more than once before completing a pregnancy, her chance for cancer increases even more. A subsequent full term pregnancy helps, but sadly never removes the sharply increased threat of cancer.

  • There are 1,600,000 abortions each year, 56% are first abortions, 44% second or more [U.S. Figures].
  • One woman in ten will develop breast cancer, and 25% of them will die.

Increase - How Much?

Women who carry their first baby to term cut their chance for breast cancer almost in half. Women who abort their first pregnancy almost double their chance. With 2 or more abortions, there is a 3-4 fold increase.

For Instance

A 15 year old American girl has a 10% lifetime risk of breast cancer. If she gets pregnant in her teens and has the baby she reduces her risk to 7.5%. However, if she has an abortion, her risk rises to 15% (assuming she has at least one child in her 20's). If the abortion sterilizes her and/or for other reasons, she never has another pregnancy, her risk rises to 30%.'4

10,000 Added Deaths?

Over 800,000 women abort their first pregnancy each year. Of these, 10% or 80,000 would have developed breast cancer. But, because of their abortions, the number of cancer cases will increase to 120,000. Of these extra 40,000 cases, 25%, or 10,000 additional women will die of breast cancer every year.

Abortion Mortality

The abortion industry claims 1 per 100,000 or 16 maternal deaths per year. If, however, we add these 10,000 deaths, a total of 10,016 die annually, or 834 deaths per 100,000. Mortality from childbirth is about 6/100,000, plus the fact that childbirth prevents over 500 deaths from cancer for every 100,000 first pregnancies carried to term.


Scientific Studies

  • Multi-national WHO studies and MacMahon et al[1] clearly established that the younger she has a full term pregnancy the less chance she has of developing breast cancer.
  • Pike et[2] all found a 2.4 times increased risk of breast cancer among women under 32 years of age who had aborted their first pregnancy.
  • Henderson et al[3] found the same risk in Chinese women.
  • Additional confirmation came from studies in U.S.[4,5,6], Japan[7], Denmark[8], Italy[9], and Russia[10,11] as well as showing that multiple abortions sharply increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Meanwhile a series of other studies were done in the hope of disproving this link. Most of these were flawed by: inappropriately crude age matching or adjusting of controls (the main problem); interpreting as statistically insignificant some retrospective case controls with low statistical power; minimizing the actual results obtained in their conclusions; and attributing results to patient's "recall bias" even though a close exam refutes such a claim.
  • Dr. Remennick[10] concluded "an initial attitude of researchers toward abortion usually determines the way they interpret results." e.g. The New England Journal of Medicine[13] reviewed risk factors and didn't even mention abortion. An 8 page TIME magazine (1-14-91) analysis ignored abortion and only mentioned in passing "delayed child bearing" as a risk factor.
  • Dr. Howe et al[6] in a well matched study (New York State Department of Health) found a 1.7 times increased risk from one abortion and 4.0 for 2 abortions if there were no intervening live births.
  • Olsson et al[l2] recently demonstrated that pre- menopausal breast cancers grow faster and are more invasive and lethal than those occurring after menopause, and patients who have had abortions have the most invasive and lethal types. The rise in the rate of this, more lethal cancer, directly parallels the use in abortions in the U.S.


[1] MacMahon B, Cole P, Lin TM, Lowe CR, Mirra AP, Ravnihar B, Salber El, Valaoras VG, Yuasa S (1970) _Bull. World Health Org._ 43:209-21.

[2] Pike MC, Henderson BE, Casagrande JT, Rosario 1, Gray CE (1981) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 43:72-6.

[3] Yuan J-M, Yu MC, Ross RK, Gao Y-T, Henderson BE (1988) _Cancer Res._ 48:1949-53.

[4] Brinton LA, Hoover R, Fraumeni IF, Ir. (1983) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 47:757-62.

[5] Rosenberg L, Palmer IR, Kaufman DW, Strom BL, Schottenfeld D, Shapiro S (1988) _Am. J. Epidemiol._ 127:981-9.

[6] Howe HL, Senie RT, Bzduch H, Herzfeld P (1989) _Int. J. Epidemiol._ 18:300-4.

[7] Hirohata T, Shigematsu T, Nomura AMY, Horie A, Hirohata 1(1985) _Nat. Cancer Inst. Monogr._ 69: 187-90.

[8] Ewertz M, Duffy SW (1988) _Brit. J. Cancer_. 58:99-104.

[9] Parazzini F, La Vecchia C, Negri E (1991) _Int. J. Cancer_. 48:816-20.

[10] Remennick LI (1989) _Int. J. Epidemiol._ 18:498-510.

[11] Remennick LI (1990) _J. Epidemiol. Commun. Health_ 44:259-64.

[12] 0lsson H, Ranstam J, Baldetorp B, Ewers S-B, Ferno M, Killander D, Sigurdsson H (1991) _Cancer_ 67:1285-90.

[13] Harris JR, Lippman ME, Veronesi U, Willett W. (1992) _New England J. Med._ 327:319-328.

[14] J. Brind, Baruch College, 1-27-93, letter to David Kessler, FDA Commissioner

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