Some years ago, I attended a medical conference in London at which Prof. Joel Brind spoke. He has the chair in biology and endocrinology at New York’s Baruch College, and he is the leading exponent of the thesis that there is a link between breast cancer and induced abortion. Prof. Brind spoke as a scientist who had devoted much time and research to his subject.
What I took from the lecture was that the onset of pregnancy increases the supply of the hormone estrogen, and thus lactational breast lobules begin to multiply. If a pregnancy is then terminated, the hormonal lobules are cut off mid-stream, as it were, and this could be a source of subsequent cancer cells. Moreover, there was a statistical correlation between the rise of breast cancer and the frequency of abortion in the United States.
I sought a second opinion by contacting a leading breast cancer consultant at London’s Marsden Hospital. He dismissed Prof. Brind’s research and said it would be irresponsible to give it publicity. It was wrong to go around frightening women with a theory that was not accepted by the medical establishment.
It is indeed the case that Joel Brind’s abortion-breast cancer link is not endorsed by the medical establishment: the prestigious American Journal of the National Cancer Institute says the research is marred by “selection bias”. And yet according to an article in the current edition of the Human Life Review, it remains an ongoing subject for enquiry. There are now 110 studies, world-wide, on the possible abortion–breast cancer link: of these, 81 (73.6%) find that there may be a link between abortion and breast cancer, while 29 (26.4%) do not establish such a link.
The jury is still out, but while the studies supporting Brind are considerable in number, the mainstream American, Canadian and British cancer institutes still affirm there is no connection.
I agree that health anxieties of any kind should be treated with circumspection, and the abortion-breast cancer thesis should never be used as a polemic or a scare tactic. It should be pointed out that there are studies which support it, and there are studies which deny it. Besides which, women who have never been pregnant, or who are virgins, are also at risk of breast cancer. But there’s a medical question just the same.
The Human Life Review – published in New York and meticulously careful about citing data – refers to two other issues relating to women’s health and abortion. There are 139 studies which find that induced abortion increases the risk of prematurity and low birth rate in subsequent births, and 22 published studies find a link between abortion and depression.
Interestingly, a pro-choice feminist, the Canadian Punam Kumar Gill, has brought these topics together in a documentary called Hush, which examines whether legal abortion has adverse health risks for women.
Medical studies differ. All should be examined fairly. But in light of the claim that abortion is “health care”, then the data should be, surely, open to discussion – not hushed.
Snub of former President is wrong
The apparent exclusion of former President Mary McAleese from speaking at the Vatican on International Women’s Day seems to me to be a public relations disaster.
It also looks like a snub to a woman who has held the office of the Eighth President of Ireland, and should be accorded some dignity.
With the Vatican there are always wheels within wheels, and you may not know what is going on until decades later. But it seems as though the Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Farrell thinks that Mrs McAleese is something of a loose cannon on LGBT issues.
She certainly speaks with a mother’s protective passion to defend her gay son. The Vatican doesn’t have to agree with her point of view by allowing her to speak.