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By Karen Malec

July 11, 2003

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Susan G. Komen Foundation tipped their hands when their officials teamed up with officials from Planned Parenthood (PP) by signing on to a May 13, 2003 commentary published in The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York). [1] The commentary, written by a local physician, Patricia Numann, labeled biological evidence for the link and 29 peer-reviewed, epidemiological studies reporting risk elevations as "misinformation." She asserted that, "The scientific research does not support the theory that abortion causes breast cancer."

It is worth mentioning that in a more recent article published in the Los Angeles Times, Mary Coyne, a board member of the ACS' Texas division, denied the existence of this research altogether. She declared, "There is just no research that supports this claim (of an abortion-breast cancer link)." [2] PP joined the ACS chorus. Claudia Stravato, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle, declared "They don't care what science says. It's like talking to the Flat Earth Society." Yet PP's Web site described the biological theory perfectly in 1997, and to this day the theory remains unchallenged and unrefuted. [3]

Five medical organizations strongly disagree with the cancer groups' position. [4] For instance, Angela Lanfranchi, MD, a breast cancer surgeon and vice president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, argues there is more evidence for abortion as a risk factor for the disease than for any other known risk factor.

A collaborative effort between PP and cancer groups creates the appearance of collusion. A similar occurrence developed in late February 2002 when Women's E-News, an internet wire service funded by the NOW Legal Defense Fund, announced that its staff expected the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to revise its web page discussing the abortion-breast cancer (ABC) research in coming weeks. [5] Less than a month later, the NCI's March 6 fact sheet was posted. Subsequently, several experts, including U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D., endocrinologist Joel Brind, Ph.D., and three physicians, each charged that the agency posted misinformation about the findings of scientists who have conducted ABC research. [6-8] Perhaps not coincidentally, the revised web page was posted only three short weeks before a significant false advertising case against an abortion clinic went to trial in North Dakota. The clinic's staff was accused by the plaintiff of distributing a pamphlet, which denied the existence of research implicating abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer. [9]

The NOW-PP-cancer group alliance appears to be worried about the impact of groups like the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, which educate the public about the medical literature. Recently, Syracuse volunteers distributed coalition brochures at a local fairground during a cancer walk sponsored by the Komen Foundation. Syracuse volunteers believe that Numann's disinformation in The Post-Standard was the alliance's response to their educational efforts. After all, her commentary was published with lightening speed only two days later.

It is customary for ABC opponents to omit any discussion of the more than two dozen studies finding a positive relationship between abortion and the disease. Numann and her allies didn't depart from this practice. They fell back on the standard party line that a single study, Melbye et al. 1997, made it possible for the cancer and the abortion industries to trash more than two dozen studies reporting a positive relationship. [10,11] It is a study paid for in part by the US Department of Defense, and its authors found no overall increase in risk.

During the last six years, the alliance asserted that Melbye et al. is a study beyond reproach. Women were led to believe that it is complete in all respects - an absolutely "flawless" study. What they omitted was the fact that even Melbye and his colleagues found a statistically significant 89% risk elevation among women choosing an abortion after 18 weeks gestation. Recently, this finding was widely reported by the coalition and other groups. As a result, Melbye et al. "reanalyzed" the data from their allegedly "perfect" study. And voila! At the NCI's February workshop, Mads Melbye announced that this finding was no longer present in the research.

Moreover, the "flawless" study was severely criticized for its errors of misclassification and data adjustment. [12] In a subsequent study, Melbye et al. 1999, the team's errors were implicitly corrected, and they found that pre-term birth before 32 weeks gestation more than doubles a woman's risk of breast cancer. - findings which are consistent with the biological explanation for the ABC link. [13]

As badly as the alliance wants the ABC link to go away, it can't be dismissed. Not one of their scientists has been able to deny the biological explanation for the link. During a normal pregnancy, a woman is overexposed to estrogen, a female hormone known to stimulate the growth of tumors. Overexposure to this secondary carcinogen is only corrected by a third trimester process which matures cancer vulnerable cells (Type 1 and 2 lobules) into cancer-resistant, milk producing tissue (Type 3 and 4 lobules).

Scientists have reported that, once a woman has a full term pregnancy, her breast tissue is permanently altered. If viewed under a microscope, the tissue resembles tiny bunches of grapes. It is tissue matured for the purpose of milk production - clusters of milk-secreting alveoli. It is a far more complex situation than what is present in the breast tissue of a woman who has never had a full term pregnancy. Her tissue, by contrast, is made up of primitive, immature, terminal end buds and ducts.

In 1980, Russo and Russo found that more aborted rats develop breast cancer if exposed to a carcinogen (DMBA) than rats with full term pregnancies and virgin rats. They observed under a microscope that rats with term pregnancies had more mature breast cells than did post-abortive rats. They said, "Therefore, while pregnancy and lactation protected the mammary gland from developing carcinomas and benign lesions by induction of full differentiation, pregnancy interruption did not elicit sufficient differentiation in the gland to be protective...." [14]

In a subsequent study, Russo and Russo wrote, " In women, protection against breast cancer is provided when pregnancy occurs before age 24. In contrast, abortion is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. The explanation for these epidemiologic findings is not known, but the parallelism between the DMBA-induced rat mammary carcinoma model and the human situation is striking." [15]

The ACS and the Komen Foundation are behaving as if the NCI's recent workshop were a kind of lifeboat which will help to save them from being asked hard questions about their failure to inform women about scientists' findings decades ago. In actuality, the NCI is a sinking ship. The agency's efforts to continue this government cover-up have inflicted considerable harm on its credibility in recent years. Its manipulation of the ABC research and the workshop's proceedings for political ends - an effort instigated by US Representatives Henry Waxman, Nita Lowey and 10 other members of Congress who protested the NCI's removal of its misleading March 6, 2002 fact sheet - will return to haunt the NCI for many decades to come. [16]


1. Numann M. "Debunking the abortion-breast cancer myth," The Post Standard, May 13, 2003, page A-8. 2. Gold S. "Texas OKs Disputed Abortion Legislation," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2003. See,1,2349921 .story. Visited May 28, 2003.
3. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., Abortion and Breast Cancer: The Issues 3 Visited September 5, 1997.
4. National Physicians Center for Family Resources, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Catholic Medical Association, Polycarp Research Institute, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
5. Woodbury M. "Judge to rule on abortion, breast cancer link," Women's E-News, February 17, 2002.
6. US Representatives Chris Smith, Joseph Pitts, Dave Weldon, MD, et al. Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. June 7, 2002.
7. Brind J. Latest web page from the National Cancer Institute: A well-cooked bowl of factoids. RFM News, March 23, 2002. Available at: Visited June 4, 2003.
8. Moon S. "Commentary on National Cancer Institute's March 6, 2002 fact sheet," published by the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, March 2002. Available at: Policy.htm#Commentary%20on%20National %20Cancer%20Institute�s%20March%206,% 202002%20Fact%20Sheet. Visited June 4, 2002.
9. Agnes Bernardo, Pamela Colip, and Saundra Duffy-Hawkins v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties; Superior Court of State of California, County of San Diego, Aug. 15, 2001.
10. Melbye M, Wohlfahrt J, Olson JH, Frisch M, Westergaard T, Helweg-Larsen K, Andersen PK. Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1997;336:81-85.
11. For a comprehensive list of the research, see the Research page for the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer at: Research.htm.
12. Brind J, Chinchilli VM. Letter re: Induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1997;336:1834-1835.
13. Melbye M, et al. Br J Cancer 1999 May;80(3-4):609-13.
14. Russo J, Russo IH. Am J Pathol 1980; Vol. 100, p. 497.
15. Russo J, Tay TK, et al. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 1982; Vol. 2, p. 27.
16. US Representatives Henry Waxman, Sherrod Brown, Nita Lowey, Diane Watson, Edolphus Towns, William Lacy Clay, Tom Allen, Rosa DeLauro, Bernard Sanders, Carol Maloney, Elijah Cummings, Dennis Kucinich. Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. October 21, 2002


Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Polycarp Research Institute


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The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international women's organization founded to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information on abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer.

� 2003 Karen Malec - All Rights Reserved

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Karen Malec is President of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer From Dec., 1999 to present The coalition is an international women�s organization whose mission is to protect the health and save the lives of women by educating and providing information about abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer.

Author "The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link: How Politics Trumped Science and Informed Consent," Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, summer 2003 A publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Author RFM News and Illinois Leader Wrote multiple articles published by an Internet wire service and a news Web site.

Accredited Journalist and Panel Discussion Participant United Nations Conference on the Rights of the Child, June 2001 Participated on a panel discussion of the abortion-breast cancer research and worked as an accredited journalist at the conference for Salem Radio News.

Lectured on the abortion-breast cancer research at U.S. and European conferences.

Authored, organized and developed most of the coalition�s Web site, with the assistance of medical advisers, Joel Brind, Ph.D. and internist, Chris Kahlenborn, M.D. The Web site has been described by international expert, Dr. Brind, as, "THE clearinghouse for up-to-date information on scientific, medical, political and legal fronts."

Interviewed in countless radio and newspaper interviews with media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times; Time Magazine; USA Today; World Magazine; RFM News; The National Catholic Register; Citizen Magazine; Report Magazine (Alberta, Canada); Alan Eisenberg Show, (Milwaukee); Barbara Simpson Show (ABC Radio, San Francisco); USA Radio; Family News In Focus, Colorado Springs; EWTN Radio; WYLL Chicago; WMUZ Detroit; KDPQ Radio, Portland, Oregon; Immaculate Heart Radio, Reno, Nevada; Radio America, Washington, DC; CDR Radio, Dayton, Ohio; Radio Liberty; Steel on Steel Radio; American Family Radio Network.

Testified twice before the Illinois Senate Executive Committee in support of task force to investigate abortion-breast cancer link, November 2000 and April 2001.

Assisted in organizing a legislative briefing sponsored by the coalition to educate Illinois public officials about the research and public policy, October 1999.

Trained as a Social Studies teacher. Taught at both the high school and elementary levels. Previously worked in the insurance industry.

Thirteen-year survivor of colon cancer.

Advisory Board Membership The Polycarp Research Institute, Altoona, Pennsylvania. The Women�s Center, Chicago, Illinois. E-Mail   [email protected]








"It is worth mentioning that in a more recent article published in the Los Angeles Times, Mary Coyne, a board member of the ACS' Texas division, denied the existence of this research altogether. She declared, "There is just no research that supports this claim (of an abortion-breast cancer link)."