The present article is an update of a previous one, entitled "The Silent Subject: Abortion Breast Cancer-Link," published in late 1997. Up until then, 30 separate peer-reviewed studies of the direct link between breast cancer and abortion of a first baby had been published worldwide, with 24 showing a significant association. I pointed out at the time that it is uncommon in epidemiological literature to find a potential risk factor so obviously linked to any disease as induced abortion is with breast cancer. Studies conducted over the ensuing five years have only served to reinforce that link which is now borne out by 29 out of 39 epidemiological studies.

The deafening silence still maintained on the subject further confirms the dishonesty of major national health associations in both Canada and the U.S., which refuse to admit and publicize the truth for fear of incurring the wrath of major women`s medical organizations. Indeed, when leaders in the field of breast cancer are asked why they even now refuse to mention the clear abortion/breast cancer link at their policy meetings, the answer is generally, "It`s too political."

This fear of adopting a politically incorrect position on abortion would seem to be substantiated by a June, 2003, testimony before the Massachusetts Joint Health Care Committee. The witness, Angela Lanfranchi, cannot be accused of pursuing an anti-Roe v. Wade agenda. A member of the American College of Surgeons, she has for years held an appointment as Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School. She teaches Family Practice residents surgery at her primary hospital, Somerset Medical Center. Most importantly, she is a member of an Expert Advisory Panel for the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners.

She has limited her surgery work over the past eight years to breast diseases, notably, breast cancer. She annually advises some 1,300 women with breast problems and carries out over 500 breast surgeries. In addition, she lectures on breast problems to the Departments of Medicine and Family Practice at Somerset Medical Center. Finally, this expert surgeon has also lectured to lay and professional groups both nationally and internationally on breast cancer risks and prevention and on the abortion breast cancer link.

In her testimony before the Massachusetts Joint Health Care Committee, she made the compelling argument that the abortion/breast cancer link is now acknowledged in authoritative textbooks used by breast cancer specialists. One of those most favoured by oncologists is the 1998 edition of "The Breast," by Bland and Copeland, which clearly states that "first trimester abortion increases risk" of breast cancer.

When it comes to stifling knowledge of the lethal breast cancer risk associated with abortion, the absolute worst offender within the women`s medical organizations is the American Medical Women`s Association whose stated mission is to provide and develop leadership to advance women in medicine and improve women`s health. But, it all has to do with protecting the unrestricted right of women to abortion on demand. The AMWA web site (www.amwa-doc.org), insinuates that allowing the information that studies clearly show an increase risk of breast cancer with abortion to be discussed at national meetings, could presumably endanger this very right contained in the Roe v. Wade ruling. Anybody daring to discuss studies proving the ABC link at these forums is immediately characterized as a fearmonger, or summarily dismissed with the contemptuous "anti-choicer" epithet.

The AMWA web site is something else. It not only deliberately conceals the realities of breast cancer risks, but also opposes parental notification and supports the barbaric partial-birth abortion procedure. Think of it, brother Knights, these are women physicians - many of them mothers - who support taking a 13-year-old child for a partial-birth abortion without their mother`s consent or knowledge. Women who in fact fully realize that this is major gynecologic surgery that could possibly result in permanent damage to a child`s reproductive organs and lead to future fertility - not to mention her death. Presumably rational women who would insist that children need their mother`s support when having an appendectomy, but not for the infinitely more serious surgery involved with a partial-birth abortion.

The medical world has shown some resistance in the past to publicize new information. The rational for such secrecy has been that such information would question the safety of practices physicians had long accepted as a requirement of medical science. We are certainly faced here with a similar problem. Today outright bias, rather than actual scientific knowledge, explains the failure of the health service community - specifically organizations such as the American Medical Women`s Association and American Cancer Society - to inform its members and clients about the undisputable body of evidence linking induced abortion with increased breast cancer risk.

Take the example, for instance, of the 19th century resistance to new medical information concerning the necessity of hand washing before surgery. Medical research, albeit primitive by modern day standards, established that death rates were 10 times higher on maternity wards than midwives` wards where these women washed their hands frequently.

Acceptance of the then revolutionary idea that the lack of hand washing by doctors caused death would have meant a total repudiation of a universally accepted medical practice. Medical authorities of the day offered all kinds of other explanations for the overwhelming number of people dying in maternity wards, e.g. overcrowding, harsh treatments and exams by interns and nurses, etc. Instead of being honoured for his contribution to women`s health, the physician involved with this important discovery was ridiculed and eventually forced to leave his hospital. Only after his death did the medical world admit he was correct.

If human rights mean anything, it certainly means that there is a critical need for women at a higher risk of breast cancer after aborting to be informed of it so that they can act accordingly through better and more frequent screening. Such precautions would lead to earlier diagnoses and thus increase their survival if they develop breast cancer.

As one who lost a sister to breast cancer, I take information on the breast cancer/abortion link very seriously. Many of us Knights, as fathers of preteen and adolescent children, in provinces and states with no parental notification and consent laws, should all worry that a misguided, misinformed guidance counselor could arrange for our daughters to have an abortion without our knowledge - almost guaranteeing they will develop breast cancer by the age of 45. Mothers need this critical information to protect their children who may react hastily and rashly to a crisis pregnancy, with no understanding of future potentially lethal medical complications.

Health departments in Canada and the U.S. are morally bound to exercise their fundamental mandate, which is to protect the health of the citizens. It is not sufficient to admit to the "possibility" of an increased risk of breast cancer among women who have had abortions. There should be no maybe about it! Abortion DOES increase the risk of breast cancer, a fact conclusively borne out by 29 out of 39 epidemiological studies done over the past 45 years, and also clearly proclaimed in breast physiology textbooks used extensively by medical schools, which state unequivocally that "first trimester abortion increases risk" of breast cancer.

Thaddée Renault

New Brunswick, Canada

September 15, 2003

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