Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has decided to warn doctors and their patients about the link between induced abortion and breast cancer, according to a page-one story in Sunday's edition of the Mail on Sunday.
The news report was cited in the US in a news release from the International Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, which is based in Palos Heights, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.
The British professional association plans, according to the news report, to publish the warning via leaflets and the Internet and will be joined in the campaign by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which serves an estimated 50,000 women annually.
"Exhaustive studies encompassing hundreds of thousands of women suggest that those who terminate pregnancies run a 30 per cent greater risk of breast cancers...."Examining 28 separate studies," reported the Mail on Sunday, "[researchers in the US] found that 24,500 cases of breast cancer were attributable to abortion."
The news story notes the Royal College independently assessed the findings and concluded the warning should be issued.
"We welcome this development," said Karen Malec, coordinator of the abortion/breast cancer coalition. "When medical authorities warn women about family history and other risks on the standard list, they should tell us also," said Mrs. Malec, "about the growing number of studies conducted worldwide which show that induced abortion raises the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
"This is a medical problem," she said, "and should be treated as such. Women's lives -- certainly their health -- depend on awareness of all the known risks. Now a prominent gynecological association acknowledges, this is a risk worth publicizing."
The risk is thought to stem from rapid cell differentiation in the breasts of a mother experiencing a normal pregnancy. Unnatural, premature interruption of that process can lead, researchers believe, to abnormal cell division, leading to malignant tumors.
Though the link has been demonstrated in repeated studies, it has not previously been acknowledged formally by "organized medicine." But the evidence is in, according to a comprehensive research survey conducted by Baruch College biology professor Dr. Joel Brind, who looked at the various statistical and animal-based biological studies examining the question and published a troubling report. It was Brind's survey which caught the attention of the Royal College.
Brind cites, in particular, a 1994 study conducted by Dr. Janet Daling and published in the (US) Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found that "among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50 percent higher than among other women." The study also found that the risk of developing breast cancer is at least double for a woman who aborted as a teenager. If such a woman also has a family history of breast cancer, reported Daling, her risk, following abortion as a teen, is incalculably high.
Daling undertook the comprehensive study, Mrs. Malec noted, despite her own commitment to legalized abortion.
"We strongly urge the American Medical Assn. and other responsible medical authorities to follow the lead of the Royal College," said Mrs. Malec. "Our bottom line is: women need to know the truth about breast cancer, and that means all the truth currently known to science. Women's lives depend on the medical profession getting over its political fears to give pre-abortive women the information they need to make a responsible choice and to alert post-abortive women of their special need for breast cancer vigilance. Women's lives are at stake, and we hope the medical profession is coming to grips with its grave responsibility to issue these warnings."