T Nation

Abortion and the Risk of Breast Cancer


Almost everyone cried when I posted a link about an article citing how abortions have a high correlation to causing breast cancer. In reality I lost zero sleep over the naysayers. There was all sorts of noise for what is credible science and my source failed the criteria test. Jajajaja.

There is a thing called my brain and not one person in the world can describe how and why it functions the way it does. Some bright doctors can make pretty good guesses, but at the end of the day they are nothing more than that, guesses.

Abortion causes a huge risk to being diagnosed with breast cancer. Logic, science and reason all tell me the same thing. I do not have to convince anyone of anything. I am simply sharing information about the things I am learning, with sources on the interwebz.

This information is originally from October 2013, so I apologize if its considered to be dated.

Abortion and the Risk of Breast Cancer: Information for the Adolescent Woman and Her Parents
American College of Pediatricians â?? December 2013

ABSTRACT: Studies from many nations suggest that induced abortion (IA) may be a causal risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Researchers agree that IA contributes to the increased risk of breast cancer by delaying the timing of a full-term pregnancy which is a protective factor. Increasing numbers of studies now show that IA prior to 32 weeks in and of itself is a risk factor for breast cancer due to the physiology of breast development and the manner in which abortion interferes with the maturation of the breast cells. Although largely ignored by the mainstream medical community, this risk information deserves a prominent place in the education of all adolescent women who may, in the future, consider an IA.

Induced abortion (IA) prior to 32 weeks gestation appears to increase a womanâ??s risk of developing breast cancer. This association is largely ignored by the mainstream medical community, not included in sex education programs, and even disputed by some. For example, the Guttmacher Institute claims, â??Exhaustive reviews by panels convened by the U.S. and British governments have concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer. There is also no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.â??[1] However, as documented by the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, the vast majority of studies (57 of 73 worldwide) do show a strong association between IA and an increased risk of breast cancer.[2] This discrepancy exists for many reasons, including bias in the selection of articles chosen for â??exhaustive review,â?? as well as flaws in methodology (e.g. including spontaneous abortions along with IAs) of some studies that discount the association. As with any medical treatment or recommendation, a lack of 100 percent certainty and the need for constant re-evaluation is not a legitimate rationale for withholding potentially life-threatening information concerning an elective procedure.

Anatomy and Physiology of Breast Development
In order to understand why abortion might contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer, it is crucial for all women to understand the anatomy and physiology of breast development. The breast is composed of three primary tissues â?? fat, connective, and duct/glandular tissue. The duct system can be compared to a tree with branches. When a female is born, she has a small number of prepubescent or Type 1 lobules that have only a rudimentary duct system â?? the tree trunk has very few branches. During puberty, young women will develop additional Type 1 lobules, and some of the lobules will mature to pubescent or Type 2 with a slight increase in the duct system â?? so the tree trunk has many more branches. (The increase in size of the breast during puberty is caused mainly by increased fat cells and connective tissue.) At the end of puberty, a femaleâ??s breast will contain a mixture of approximately 75 percent Type 1 lobules and 25 percent Type 2 lobules. Type 1 and Type 2 lobules, because of their immaturity, are vulnerable to cancer.

During the first half of a pregnancy, termed the â??proliferation phase,â?? Type 1 and Type 2 lobules increase in number due to the influence of estrogen. Within just a few days of conception, a womanâ??s levels of estrogen increase, and by the end of her first trimester, estrogen levels have increased by 2000 percent. By the 20th week of pregnancy, the breast has doubled in volume, mainly because of the increased number of lobules. During the second half of pregnancy, the immature, cancer-vulnerable Type 1 and Type 2 lobules begin to differentiate or mature into Type 4 lobules that are capable of producing milk. After 32 weeks of pregnancy, enough Type 4 lobules have developed to help protect a mother against breast cancer. By 40 weeks, 85 percent of a femaleâ??s lobules are of the relatively more cancer-resistant, mature Type 4 lobules.

The microbiology of breast development is still being investigated and the differentiation from Type 2 to Type 3 and 4 lobules is not yet fully explained. It is known that after birth, with or without lactation, the Type 4 lobules regress to Type 3, but importantly, via epigenetics, these cells maintain the changes that protect them from susceptibility to cancer.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
It is an accepted fact by all researchers that the immature breast cells in Type 1 and Type 2 lobules are the cells at greatest risk for the development of cancer. Type 1 lobules are also known as terminal ductal lobular units (TDLUs) where 80 percent of all breast cancers are formed â?? the in-situ and invasive ductal cancers. Type 2 lobules are where lobular carcinoma (about 15 percent of all breast cancers) are formed. Type 3 and 4 lobules are mature and more resistant to factors that contribute to the development of cancer. Therefore, when a woman has completed at least 32 weeks of pregnancy she will have a lower risk of breast cancer. Conversely, if she never gives birth, her risk will be higher.

If a woman has an IA prior to 32 weeks, her cells have been exposed to the stimulation of estrogen, but have not yet been allowed to fully develop and mature into Type 3 and 4 lobules. The cells have begun to rapidly multiply only to have their hormonal environment dramatically changed when the pregnancy is terminated. This results in more Type 1 and Type 2 lobules (more cells in an undifferentiated state), and therefore more places for cancers to form. The female will also lose the protection she would otherwise have had with a full-term pregnancy and her cells are then harmfully exposed to more estrogen through future menstrual cycles. It is easy to understand from a biological standpoint how an IA may contribute to the risk of breast cancer.

However, a spontaneous abortion, also known as a miscarriage, in the first trimester is not associated with an increased risk since the levels of estrogen are not as elevated during the pregnancy and breast tissue growth does not occur to the same degree as in a healthy pregnancy. A miscarriage or still birth in the second trimester does carry a slightly increased risk due to the greater stimulation of Type 1 and Type 2 lobules.

The most important variable for breast cancer is the amount of estrogen to which a woman is exposed without the differentiating (maturing) effect of a full-term pregnancy. Women who start their menstrual cycles at a younger age are at a greater risk, as are those who have later menopause. Women who first give birth after 30 years of age are also at an increased risk because their immature Type 1 and 2 lobules have been exposed to estrogen (and potential carcinogens) for more years before their first pregnancy.
There are other risk factors for breast cancer which include: alcohol (which increases estrogenic exposure by decreasing the liverâ??s ability to clear the estrogen), breast cancer genes (BRCA genes), cigarette smoking (by damaging DNA), and postmenopausal obesity (fat cells make estrogen). Factors that decrease breast cancer risk include breast feeding, having children in young adulthood, early menopause, exercise (by decreasing estrogen exposure), and nutritional factors such as omega-3 fatty acids (which decrease inflammation making conditions less favorable for cancer to form) and cruciferous vegetables (which contain compounds that facilitate estrogen metabolism and removal).

Timing of Abortion Relative to Childbirth and the Risk of Breast Cancer
An IA that occurs before a woman has had a full-term pregnancy interrupts the development of the womanâ??s breast tissue thereby preventing maturation into Type 3 and 4 lobules. This results in more Type 1 and Type 2 lobules remaining in the breasts leading to more undifferentiated cells that are susceptible to carcinogens and estrogenic stimulation in the future. This places the woman at a higher risk for breast cancer development as compared to the woman who has an abortion after having already carried a child to full term. The woman who has previously given birth (after at least 32 weeks) has mature Type 3 and 4 lobules that are more resistant to the development of cancer and her subsequent abortion does not increase her risk as greatly as that of the woman who has never given birth.[3] In 2006, 42 percent of abortions were to women who had never given birth placing them at greater risk for breast cancer than those who have also given birth.

Abortion and Premature Delivery
An IA increases a womanâ??s risk of premature delivery with subsequent pregnancies. During surgical abortions, the cervix is forced open and often injured, and the damage may weaken the cervix resulting in the premature delivery of future pregnancies. The literature documents a womanâ??s risk of premature deliveries increases with the number of abortionsâ??especially the risk of very early premature delivery (less than 28 to 32 weeks).[4] Since premature delivery prior to 32 weeks also increases the risk of breast cancer, IA may further increase a womanâ??s risk by this mechanism.

Dose-Effect Response between Abortion and Breast Cancer
Given the physiology of cancer susceptibility of the breast, it would be expected that the greater the time for Type 1 and 2 lobules to increase, the greater the risk of breast cancer. Studies on abortion and breast cancer are consistent with this expectation. A Danish study which included data on the gestational age at IA demonstrated a three percent increase in the incidence of breast cancer risk per every week gestation at abortion.[5] Additionally, a 2012 Finnish study also documented an increased risk of pre-term delivery with increasing numbers of abortions.[6] Likewise, numerous studies have shown a higher risk for women who have multiple abortions.[7] In 2006, 45 percent of abortions were repeat abortions.[8]

Literature Review of Abortion â?? Breast Cancer Link
There are serious methodological flaws in abortion-breast cancer literature. The most serious flaw is the inclusion of women who have spontaneous first trimester abortions compared with those women who have IAs. Other major flaws include lack of long-term follow-up (since it can take 8 â?? 10 years for a breast cancer to develop and be identified), inappropriately excluding from the analysis patients with in situ breast cancer,[9] and incorrectly classifying all older women into the no-abortion cohort.[10]
In contrast, an unbiased, quality 2013 meta-analysis of 36 studies revealed a significant increase in risk of breast cancer (OR=1.44 for first IA, 1.76 after second, and 1.89 after third) after experiencing an IA.[11]

Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer
It is important to understand that the incidence of breast cancer is increasing worldwide. In February 2013, Rebecca Johnson, MD, and her colleagues made national news with their research demonstrating an increased incidence of breast cancer with distant involvement (metastatic disease) in young women in 2009 compared with the rates in 1979. Dr. Johnson stated, â??In conclusion, SEER (US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program of the National Cancer Institute) data showed a small but statistically significant increase in the incidence of breast cancer with distant involvement for women aged 25 to 39 years. The trajectory of the incidence trend predicts that an increasing number of young women in the United States will present with metastatic breast cancer in an age group that already has the worst prognosisâ?¦â??[12]

Epidemiological studies support the role of abortion in this increased incidence of breast cancer. Romania, for instance had one of Europeâ??s lowest rates of breast cancer during the time that abortion was illegal under Ceausescu, whose communist rule ended in 1989. Since the legalization of abortion in Romania in 1989, the numbers of abortions increased over 400 percent and the breast cancer incidence doubled in 18 years from 25 cases per 100,000 women in 1988 to 51 cases per 100,000 women in 2006.[13] The enforcement of the one-child policy in China, which includes forced abortions, has led to an increased incidence of breast cancer rates in that country, with the incidence increasing 31 percent since 1983.[14,15]

Evidence suggests that IA prior to a full-term pregnancy contributes to the high rates of breast cancer seen around the world. The current studies demonstrating a dose-related association between pre-term induced abortion and breast cancer strongly suggest a causal effect. Although further study is warranted, this risk must be known by adolescent females. The American College of Pediatricians recommends that all medical professionals provide this information as part of complete health care to all adolescents and their parents. It is important that parents reinforce this information to their daughters. All health educators should include this information in any health/sexuality education class in which abortion is discussed.

Primary Author: Jane Anderson, MD, FCP

Here is the link if you would like refrences.



I know you have a long history of completely ignoring anything that doesn't fit what you want to be true so I'm sure the evidence in this article won't do anything to sway you.

Quite interesting how you bash science as stupid in one thread because of how you feel religiously and attempt to celebrate it in this thread if it fits your view of how you hope things are.

In essence you will cherry pick anything and fight against anything that may be counter to your faith. That isn't being logical or using reason as you say you do in your post. That is ignoring evidence and twisting evidence so you feel better about your faith.


Looks like the American College of Pediatricians is a quack site:


Quack T-Nation member peddling information from crazy religious site. Should have known to look at the source when it's kneedragger posting. Had never heard of the ACP, but apparently it fits right up the cross sniffing wacko alley.

Always important to manipulate science if it doesn't fit a religious agenda. Isn't that what the faithful mean by faith? I think Jesus said "go forth and manipulate research for me!"


the liar wrote:

"Almost everyone cried when I posted a link about an article citing how abortions have a high correlation to causing breast cancer. In reality I lost zero sleep over the naysayers. There was all sorts of noise for what is credible science and my source failed the criteria test. Jajajaja.

There is a thing called my brain and not one person in the world can describe how and why it functions the way it does. Some bright doctors can make pretty good guesses, but at the end of the day they are nothing more than that, guesses.

Abortion causes a huge risk to being diagnosed with breast cancer. Logic, science and reason all tell me the same thing. I do not have to convince anyone of anything. I am simply sharing information about the things I am learning, with sources on the interwebz. "

Once again you are lying about the (nonexistent) link between abortion and birth control.

You are correct, there is not one person who can explain how YOUR brain works.

Logic, science and reason all tell you the same thing....... Funny, you do not understand any of those concepts.

I really wish that your caretakers would hide the computer from you.



I'm not going to call it a quack organization, as it requires board certification in practice to become a member, so it is most definitely an organization of qualified healthcare professionals in pediatrics which to me does not fit the definition of "quack" organization. However it has some troubling past.

It's interesting to look Dr. Throckmorton up. He's been critical of the ACP for a while, as a self described evangelical Christian, and has a pretty good CV. However he does not call them a quack organization (although I think it pretty obvious what he thinks about some of their practices based on his writing--the link above is only a blurb, he has posted more elsewhere).


It appears to have quite the agenda to push, much like the original poster. And appears willing to only link science that fits that agenda and ignore anything counter to it.

Yep, exactly like kneedragger.


I've said it before and I'll say it again:

The pro-life position is the only scientifically, logically and morally sound position. There is zero need to involve either religion or some of the crazy ass baloney a lot of pro-life people do.

Much like the assholes that loot during what would otherwise be a peaceful (bloods and fucking crips sitting next to each other, hello) protest, it really ruins the whole thing.

So yeah, making up connections between abortion and cancer isn't really helping here.

edited to add the almighty science


I agree!


No argument there.

This should be an illustration of several things. First, an organization of fully qualified medical professionals does not necessarily mean that they are able to understand or accurately evaluate scientific research (although it certainly means that they SHOULD be able to. At least moreso than laypeople).

Second, that organizations of fully board certified professionals can have agendas (BOTH AAP and ACP have agendas, just opposing each other, and one willing to do things the other will not). It also does not mean that they are WRONG to hold these beliefs....only that what they do in terms of executing that position is not properly thought out or even professional.

And third, that being a medical professional in no way means you are qualified to do public policy or psychological research.

Finally there are two essential possibilities: 1) the persons in the ACP responsible for putting together their material on the relevant research subject matter are unable to properly do their job leading to errors that were not corrected by others 2) that they deliberately misunderstood, misreported, or otherwise misrepresented research to further their position.

In other words, this is a shining example of how expertise in one field does not automatically qualify you in another field, even if it is somewhat related.


Exactly how did you determine that pro-life is the ONLY scientifically....sound position?

Please respond ONLY with cites from reputable scientific sources (not - I knew someone who had an abortion and she is now fucking nuts)- otherwise I am calling BS on your claim.



Going down this road is not going to end well, we've been down this fork many times in the past.

But do note that beans is taking the totality of all those fields, not just science sources.

In other words, his argument is much closer to a Philosophy of science argument than a scientific research hypothesis. Besides, this is a topic that touches on all ethical and philosophical areas so they are appropriate to call into discussion.

His position is a position that I happen to agree with as well. But you should know his claim wasn't pure science it is philosophy of science because it takes ethics and morality into the discussion.


His response does not say- philosophical- it says scientific- which is the process of gathering knowledge to understand the world.

Philosophy is different than the scientific method- therefore I was curious to hear how the pro-life position used science to arrive at the only sound decision.



Is there a single shred of scientific evidence that says anything other than "a unique human life begins at conception"?


True. But you have to walk away from science to determine if we should care.


My edit didn't stick, but here is my "source":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_development_%28biology%29

Sure. But I only agree because you use the word "care".

Science can provide the measuring stick, and I'd argue it is the only consistent and verifiable measuring stick we have.


Come on, please read his post again. I'll quote it:

Scientifically--the part you picked out.

Logically--NOT "empirical science" very MUCH more "philosophy" or "ethics" or "philosophy of science". Logical argument, proposition/premise/conclusions......aka philosophy.

Morally--obviously ethics and morality. Again, very much argued logically.

It's right there in his statement man. That's a false position you're trying to force him into from something he didn't even say. In fact, he all but explicitly said something completely different. I know you are a very smart dude and by all I've read here you have an excellent grasp of statistical analysis. I feel like this is something easily noticed from his words.

He may choose to go the science only route, but that's not what he said in his first post.


I think I can take the position that I do care, but am realistic to look at the examples of history and see what happens when abortion is made illegal. It doesn't stop it, it makes it unsafe.

What is the more pro-life position:

  1. Encourage use of contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Allow women who decide to get an abortion to have it done in a safe manner by medical professionals. Make late term abortion illegal except in cases where the woman's life is in danger.

  2. Discourage the use of contraceptives and hope people don't have unwanted pregnancies. Make abortion illegal so those women who still decide to terminate a pregnancy must get it done on the black market putting the life of themselves at risk in addition to their fetus.


There's no reason you have to be against encouraging use of contraception just because you're pro-life. Only kneedragger thinks that. Therefore you're not really covering all options available for decision either.

Further that's not really the crux of the matter. Or, it may be for you, but not for many others: just because you believe something that happens to be difficult or problematic to practically enforce it does not follow that your position must be wrong. Unpopular maybe, but not morally wrong to hold.

As jackkrash said in another thread: Just because we can't define the terms in razor clarity does not mean that they are not worth fighting for. The same goes for moral obligation: Just because something is difficult to enforce does not mean that we don't have a moral obligation to try all the same. You recognize this yourself in many other ways when the talk becomes about small government or gov't overreach, or torture for intelligence gathering or many other areas when you have argued a position that is difficult to administer or executively run in politics but you view as an ethical obligation.

The stakes here are just as high if not higher. So it does not make sense AT ALL that this suddenly becomes a pragmatic or utilitarian position. It may turn into that, but that is not automatic nor does it follow that it SHOULD be automatic.


I put the 2nd one because often people who are the most pro-life are also the most against contraceptive use.

I will never understand why the single best tool to avoiding unwanted pregnancies (which are the only ones that end in abortion) is not pushed more by people who are pro-life.


I swear I honestly read it differently. I saw it as three distinct areas:

  1. Science
  2. Logic
  3. Morals

The details of 2 & 3 are debatable in an opinion-based forum, whereas 1 requires empirical evidence and a very distinctive process. I wasn't trying to force beans into a position, I was genuinely curious about the "science" of pro-life....