surrogacy

The World Health Organization estimates that the annual death-toll of breast cancer will dramatically increase by more than 60 per cent during the next 20 years.’

This quote is taken from new research in the Journal ‘Cancer Research’ which found that pregnancy at an early, but not late age, has a strong and life-long protective effect against breast cancer.

The research concludes that if we can better understand how and why early age pregnancy protects against later breast cancer, we can reduce breast cancer–related mortality.

However ONS figures show – somewhat ironically in the light of this research – that over the last two decades the percentage of conceptions leading to abortion has increased for women aged under 20 but decreased for women aged 35 and over. Nearly half of girls under 20 years who get pregnant do not continue with their pregnancy but have an abortion. And abortion rates in this country are highest for women aged 20-24.

Coincidentally, the authors of another research paper, published last week, find the same but make a surprising further admission. It is hidden away in an interview the authors gave about their findings, where they state, almost in passing, that:

‘…there is an increased risk of breast cancer if the first pregnancy occurs after age 30 as well as in women who lose their baby during pregnancy or have an abortion.’

The research authors from Georgia Regents University explain as follows:

‘When the fetus is lost before term, immature cells that were destined to become breast cells, can more easily become cancer,’ said Rajneesh Pathania, the study’s first author.

The most remarkable aspect of this interview is the apparent confirmation that abortion increases breast cancer risk, and the almost casual way in which this is acknowledged, and presented as fact, as though everyone knows this association!

The paper, DNMT1 is essential for mammary and cancer stem cell maintenance and tumorigenesis, looks at the genetic regulation of breast cancer formation and provides potentially useful findings for the understanding of, and treatment for, breast cancer, including offering a possible therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment, which is, of course, very welcome – and needed.

However the focus of this blog is the possible link between abortion and breast cancer and in this respect it is the authors’ interview, here, that is particularly interesting:

‘Mammary stem cells help maintain the breasts during puberty as well as pregnancy, both periods of dynamic breast cell growth. During pregnancy, breasts may generate 300 times more cells as they prepare for milk production. This mass production may also include tumor cells, a mutation that seems to increase with age,’ Thangaraju said. ‘When the fetus is lost before term, immature cells that were destined to become breast cells, can more easily become cancer,’ said Rajneesh Pathania, a GRU graduate student and the study’s first author. (emphasis added).

‘While the exact reasons remain unclear, there is an increased risk of breast cancer if the first pregnancy occurs after age 30 as well as in women who lose their baby during pregnancy or have an abortion. Women who never have children also are at increased risk, while multiple term pregnancies further decrease the risk, according to the American Cancer Society.’

The possible existence of a link between induced abortion and a subsequent risk of developing breast cancer has been widely dismissed, including by the RCOG in their 2011 report, ‘The care of women requesting induced abortion’:

Women should be informed that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk’ (emphasis added). This, therefore, is routinely told to women requesting an abortion.

However in 2014 (after the RCOG report was published), a large meta-analysis of 36 studies on abortion published by Huang concluded that induced abortion is significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer – by as much as 44 per cent after one induced abortion and even more as the number of abortions increases.

So, at best, I would concede that the jury is still out on the existence of a link but it is undoubtedly disputed, and has always been highly controversial, despite the RCOG dismissal of any possible link. It is NOT justified to claim that evidence for a link is non-existent or misinformed.

And this new acknowledgement seems to me to put the ball back into the court of those who deny any existence of a link.

It should also surely prompt some searching questions:

If (even some) researchers in this field readily accept as fact that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, why the silence elsewhere?

How many women with an unwanted pregnancy would like to be informed that abortion is a known – or even possible – risk factor for breast cancer?

How many young women with an unplanned pregnancy would like to be informed that continuing the pregnancy is a known protective factor against breast cancer?

Can a woman’s (so-called) ‘right to choose’ be a choice if they are not told the truth about the choices?

Can an ‘informed choice’ be possible if women do not have all the information on all the choices before them?

And my last question: is politics (and ideology) silencing the science in this debate?

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