REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: by Babette FrancisNews Weekly
The unacknowledged elephant in the room
, November 24, 2007
During the recent Breast Cancer Awareness Month, nobody was willing to utter the dreaded "A" word, writes Babette Francis.During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there was a good deal of walking, running, wearing of pink suits and waving of pink ribbons to raise funds for breast cancer research and patient support.
While a very commendable job has been done in emphasising the importance of early diagnosis, I have waited in vain for the Cancer Councils or the National Breast Cancer Centre to mention all
the risk factors involved in the epidemiology of breast cancer. None of the organisations has offered an explanation for the increase in breast cancer from one in 11 women a few years ago to one in eight now.Women's health at risk
A recent study* by Patrick S. Carroll, research director of the Pension and Population Research Institute (PAPRI), London, showed that, among seven risk factors, abortion is the "best predictor of breast cancer", and fertility is also a useful predictor.
It showed that countries with higher abortion rates, such as England and Wales, could expect a substantial increase in the incidence of breast cancer. Where abortion rates are low (i.e., Northern Ireland and Eire), a smaller increase is expected. Where a decline in abortion has taken place (Denmark and Finland), a decline in breast cancer is anticipated.
Carroll used the same mathematical model for a previous forecast of numbers of breast cancers in future years for England and Wales based on cancer data up to 1997 that has proved accurate for predicting cancers observed in years 1998 to 2004.
In four countries - England, Wales, Scotland, Finland and Denmark - a social gradient has been discovered (unlike that for other cancers) whereby upper-class and upwardly-mobile women have more breast cancer than lower-class women. This was studied in Finland and Denmark and the influence of known risk factors other than abortion was examined, but the gradient was not explained.
Carroll suggests that the known preference for abortion in this class might explain the phenomenon. Women pursuing higher education and professional careers often delay marriage and childbearing. Abortions before the birth of a first child are highly carcinogenic.
Carroll used national data from nations believed to have "nearly complete abortion counts". Therefore, his study is not affected by what is known as recall bias.
President of the International Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, Karen Malec, has said:
"It's time for scientists to admit publicly what they already acknowledge privately among themselves - that abortion raises breast cancer risk - and to stop conducting flawed research to protect the medical establishment from massive medical practice lawsuits."
Carroll's conclusion is that the increase in breast cancer incidence appears to be best explained by an increase in abortion rates, especially nulliparous (i.e., women who have no children) abortions, and lower fertility.
Overexposure to the hormone oestrogen is associated with most of the risk factors for breast cancer, and women should avoid excessive alcohol, hormonal contraceptives, combined hormone-replacement therapy, induced abortion, childlessness, delay of first full-term pregnancy (age 24 or older), postmenopausal obesity, radiation, and cigarette-smoking.
The worst time in a woman's life to be exposed to a carcinogen is before the birth of a first child when breast lobules consist almost entirely of cancer-vulnerable Type 1 and 2 lobules.
To reduce breast cancer risk, women should exercise, avoid abortion, breastfeed their babies longer, eat cruciferous vegetables, have an early first full-term pregnancy before age 24 (the best way to prevent the disease), have a larger family, and eat omega-3 fatty acids.Breast cancer risk
In its much publicised online tool by which women can evaluate their breast cancer risk, the National Breast Cancer Centre asks questions about age, family genetics, height and menstrual history - all factors about which women can do little or nothing. But it does not ask about abortions. The "A" word is like the unacknowledged elephant in the room.
The cover story in Time
magazine, "Why breast cancer is spreading around the world" (October 15, 2007) acknowledges that having fewer than two children is a risk factor and that having more babies and breast-feeding protect a mother against the disease.
Treasurer Peter Costello, with his baby bonus and encouragement to have three children ("one for your husband, one for your wife and one for the country"), may inadvertently be doing more to reduce the incidence of breast cancer than our Cancer Councils.- The author Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.
* Patrick S. Carroll, "The Breast Cancer Epidemic: Modeling and Forecasts Based on Abortion and Other Risk Factors", Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
, Vol.12, No.3 (Fall 2007), pp.72-78. Available at: www.jpands.org/vol12no3/carroll.pdf