Abortion, Miscarriage and Breast Cancer Risk

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • Abortion, Miscarriage and Breast Cancer Risk. Call me fatalistic, but I have never believed that getting breast cancer was my fault. As far as I know, I didn’t get breast cancer because I didn’t exercise enough, or breast-feed my children longer than six months each, or because I got pregnant for the first time at the advanced age of 33.

    Now, women who have had breast cancer can add another two factors to the list of things that did not cause their breast cancer: induced abortion or spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). According to a report in the April 23 Archives of Internal Medicine, neither abortion nor miscarriage is associated with breast cancer risk. According to this article, women younger than 35 who carry a pregnancy to term seem to have a reduced lifetime risk of breast cancer. (That would be me, but it obviously wasn’t enough to prevent it.)
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    The study looked at the association between abortion and breast cancer in nearly 106,000 women and found that 15 percent or 16,000 plus participants had a history of induced abortion and nearly 22,000 or 21 percent of them had a history of spontaneous abortion. The participants were also followed for another 10 years. Still, no association was found between abortion or miscarriage and an increased risk of breast cancer.

    However, the study did find an association in two subgroups, between induced abortion and breast cancer that does not respond to the hormone progesterone and, also, to an inverse association between spontaneous abortion before age 20 and breast cancer incidence. But these findings were based on small numbers of women and were not deemed significant.

    The study’s authors concluded that these findings might have been due to chance. So what does cause breast cancer? Again, we are left with, who really knows? I am completely in favor of scientific research devoted to finding out the causes of breast cancer, and hopefully, some day soon, a cure. Yet if you are, like me, one of the millions of women who have had breast cancer, without any family history or genetic pre-disposition, it seems that the findings often support my completely unscientific theory: random bad luck. What do you think?

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Published On: April 23, 2007