Pat Centner | Journal Staff Writer
Disappointed, but not surprised, is how Joel Brind,
Ph.D., described his reaction to the outcome of the National Cancer
Institutes (NCI) February workshop. Researchers at the workshop
concluded that scientific evidence does not support the premise
that having an abortion increases a womans risk of breast
cancer in subsequent years. In addition, the NCIs Board of
Scientific Advisors and Board of Scientific Counselors reviewed
the workshops findings and unanimously approved them.
Entitled Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer,
the workshop was purportedly held to present and review the information
available on the risk of breast cancer associated with pregnancy.
However, Dr. Brind, who is president of the Breast Cancer Prevention
Institute and an endocrinologist at Baruch College of The City University
of New York, says, What we supposedly set out to do, we did
not do, and that was to rigorously scrutinize and discuss the data.
Brind says he had hoped there would be in-depth discussion on both
sides of the issue of induced abortion, the most controversial reproductive
event connected to pregnancy. He thought workshop participants
would address the wealth of research that shows an increase in breast
cancer cases among women who have had an abortion commonly
called the ABC link.
Indeed, institute director Andrew von Eschenbach said the decision
to hold the workshop was made after an NCI Web site Fact Sheet which
stated there is no evidence that abortion raises breast cancer risk
had been challenged numerous times, and after he learned that the
data had not been reviewed by scientists outside the institute.
But Brind said there was, unfortunately, no discussion, really,
of the merits of any preceding data. I asked a couple of questions,
but that was it. Nobody else was interested in discussing the merits
or demerits of previous research. The answer I got when I asked,
How can you do this (conclude that abortion poses no breast
cancer risk) despite all the data going the other way? was,
Theres widespread agreement that [it] is true
that previous research is flawed.
So you ask a scientific question, you get a political answer,
says Brind. ... The only thing that really surprised me was the
sheer bluntness of this political assault. It was very clear they
were going to do whatever it took to stamp out the abortion/breast
cancer link once and for all from the publics mind. ... It
was all just a very big fix.
The general consensus among those who support an ABC link is that
scientists denounce the supporting research because a large part
of the funding for their grants and research projects comes from
the NCI. And the NCI is funded by the government, which also funds
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider nationwide.
Research showing an increased risk for breast cancer was deemed
flawed at the workshop because of alleged recall
or reporting bias. This phenomenon, according to Karen
Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, theorizes
that breast cancer patients are more likely to honestly report any
abortions they might have had than healthy women are (i.e., a bias
between breast cancer patients and healthy women).
Malec says it all boils down to whether or not it is true that one
group of women was more prone to lie about their abortion histories
than the other. And the scientists say the healthy women in the
previous studies were more prone to lie. The only logical conclusion?
Individuals who are interviewed for scientific studies cannot be
trusted to tell the truth.
If there is such a thing as recall bias, Malec says,
then thousands of studies paid for by U.S. taxpayers are going
to have to be thrown out the window, along with the abortion/breast
cancer research. This is because scientists rely on interviews very
heavily to do their research. And they rely on interviews for stigmatized
risk factors, such as the increased risk of cervical cancer, which
is associated with having multiple sex partners, or the increased
risk of liver cancer, which is associated with alcoholism. So if
all the studies showing an increase in breast cancer for women having
an abortion are flawed because of recall bias, then so is all the
other taxpayer-funded research.