New England Journal of Medicine Recognizes Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

It has been forty-three years since the first study on the abortion-breast cancer link was published in 1957. This was a study published in an English language publication, GANN, and it reported a 160% elevated risk of breast cancer among Japanese women following induced abortion. 1 Subsequently, the World Health Organization published its study in 1970 and said that the results "suggested increased risk associated with abortion -- contrary to the reduction in risk associated with full-term births." 2 In 1980 Russo and Russo published the results of their study involving laboratory rats which confirmed a relationship between abortion and increased risk of breast cancer. 3

Only three years ago the world's most influential medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), published a Danish study which denied the abortion-breast cancer link. Known as the Melbye study, these researchers concluded that "Induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer." 4 Also published in the NEJM was an editorial by a National Cancer Institute epidemiologist which asserted that "a woman need not worry about the risk of breast cancer" when she contemplates an abortion. 5

On March 13, 2000 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists became the world's first medical organization to warn its abortion providers that the abortion-breast cancer link "cannot be disregarded" and that the Brind review was "carefully conducted" and "had no major methodological shortcomings." 6

Now that 27 out of 33 worldwide studies have reported a link between abortion and breast cancer (13 out of 14 of which are American studies reporting a link), the New England Journal of Medicine has chosen to recognize the evidence of an abortion-breast cancer link. In the text of an article entitled, "Assessing the Risk of Breast Cancer," by Katrina Armstrong and her associates from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine the following statement was made: "Other risk factors have been less consistently associated with breast cancer (such as diet, use of oral contraceptives, lactation, and abortion)." 7. While the overwhelming weight of the evidence associating abortion with breast cancer would seem to require a more complete and emphatic statement of the facts, this statement, according to Dr. Brind, "represents a sea change from a position of full-blown denial in American organized medicine." 8

  • 1. Segi et al. (1957) GANN 48 (Suppl):1-63
  • 2. MacMahon B, et al. Bull Wld Health Org (1970); 43-209-21
  • 3. Russo & Russo (1980) Am J. Pathol 100:497-512
  • 4. Melbye et al. (1997) NEJM 336:81-5
  • 5. Hartge (1997) NEJM 336:127-8
  • 6. "Evidence-based Guideline No. 7: The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion," Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Press Conference, March 13, 2000
  • 7. Armstrong (2000) NEJM 342:564-71
  • 8. Joel Brind, Ph.D., "Abortion Now a "Risk Factor" According to Latest New England Journal Review, Abortion Breast Cancer Quarterly Update, Spring 2000, Vol. 4, No. 1.