Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Study Dispels Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

    Findings Show Abortion Doesn't Raise Breast Cancer Risk

    Sorting Through the Studies on Breast Cancer and Abortion continued...

    According to data from 44,000 women who participated in the studies analyzed, researchers found no increase in breast cancer risk among women who had a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage or abortion. In fact, women who had a pregnancy that ended in abortion had a slightly lower (7%) risk of breast cancer, and the number of abortions was not associated with any change in breast cancer risk.

    "You could argue that if anything there is a small decreased risk, but I think the main thing is that it confirms very strongly that we can say quite confidently that there is no increased risk," says Beral.

    Beral says the data collected from the 39,000 women who participated in retrospective studies were less reliable. Although the links between breast cancer and miscarriage were similar among the retrospective and prospective studies, the results on abortion and breast cancer varied widely between the two types of studies.

    "If you've got something we know is correct, and something we're not sure about," says Bernal referring to the studies that look at data collection prospectively and retrospectively, "and we get a one-in-a-million chance that these results are similar, it suggests that the other ones are biased."

    Controversial History

    Researchers have been studying the relationship between abortion and breast cancer for nearly 50 years. Until the mid-1990s, studies on the issue had produced inconsistent results, and most of the studies were considered flawed because they involved a small number of women and many studies collected information only after breast cancer had been diagnosed.

    In 1996, Joel Brind, PhD, a professor of biology and endocrinology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, published a study based on 23 independent studies that asked women with and without breast cancer whether they had ever had an abortion.

    Brind's study suggested that having had an abortion increased a woman's risk of breast cancer.

    But Brind takes issue with the Beral's study and says the studies used in the analysis are also flawed.

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article