NRL News

Reno Gazette-Journal ‘Fact Check” reprises cooked books on link between abortion and breast cancer

by | Apr 30, 2014


By Joel Brind, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel Brind

Dr. Joel Brind

Mark Robison is the “fact checker” for the Reno Gazette Journal. In a piece that appeared April 26, he purports to answer the truthfulness of the claim “Abortion is linked with a raised risk of breast cancer.” At the end of his analysis, Robison tells us that on a scale of 1-10, this clam rated a “1” on the “Truthmeter.” Not 4 or 6 or 8, but 1!

Since he cites research done by myself and others as the foil to prove there is no link, I will focus on that. Robison begins with the meta-analysis I and my colleagues from Penn State Medical College published in 1996 in the British Medical Association’s epidemiology journal. (A “meta-analysis” combines the results of many studies.)

We reported an overall 30% increased risk of breast cancer among women who had had any induced abortions, based on worldwide data up to that point.

How does Robison address—explain away–this conclusion? “A different meta-analysis at the same time covering basically the same studies came to a different conclusion.” The obvious implication is that the latter (by Beral et al.) is superior. But Robison missed some key facts here.

The second meta-analysis was actually published eight years later, in 2004. Moreover, the Beral meta-analysis, while it also included the same time period covered by our meta-analysis, omitted no less than 15 original studies on the abortion-breast cancer link (ABC link).

And these studies were not excluded for any scientific reasons. Rather they were excluded for capricious and invalid reasons, including:

“Principal investigators…could not be traced”

“original data could not be retrieved by the principal investigators”

“researchers declined to take part in the collaboration”

“principal investigators judged their own information on induced abortion to be unreliable” (even though it had been vetted by peer review and published in a prominent medical journal).

In addition another four previously published studies were simply never mentioned at all. Only two were excluded for legitimate scientific reasons.

That’s how researchers, like Beral, who want to disparage a real fact they don’t like, end up with “…any such relation (between abortion and breast cancer) is likely to be small or nonexistent.”

Beral et al. did attribute the “small” risk increase found in case-control studies to “response bias,” an argument—as Robison correctly points out—that is promulgated most prominently by the World Health Organization (WHO):

“The World Health Organization described their problem: ‘All published case-control studies have relied on interviews of cases and controls with the inherent problem of recall bias. This bias occurs because women with breast cancer (cases) tend to truthfully report induced abortion while controls, who often are healthy women, have no ‘incentive’ to provide information about personal and sensitive matters such as induced abortion. Such bias can produce elevated relative risk estimates in case-control studies. As a result, the outcome of such studies has been inconsistent, with some having indicated a small increase in risk, while others have not.'”

Notice how the WHO refers to recall bias (aka “response bias” or “reporting bias”) as if a matter of fact. One would think such a paragraph would be based on very solid evidence.

But in fact, it is based on a rather elaborate epidemiological fraud perpetrated by a team of researchers headed by prominent researcher Olav Meirik, who just so happens to work for the WHO (and the UNFPA, and the World Bank). We dissected this fraud in excruciating detail (including a rigorous mathematical disproof) in a letter published in same journal as our meta-analysis, in 1998. [1]

In that letter, we also noted the fact that Meirik et al. essentially retracted the sole basis for their claim of evidence of response bias: The strange phenomenon of “overreporting.”

“Overreporting” is the assumption that an abortion reported by a woman at a later interview—but does not appear on the woman’s computerized record–is presumed to be an abortion that did not occur. That is, the woman imagined having had an abortion that did not take place!

But somehow, the concept of response bias lives on, despite that fact that a number of studies have disproved it, including a prominent study on upstate New York women that was based on medical records of abortion, that rendered response bias literally impossible.

That study (by Holly Howe et al.) found a 90% increased risk of breast cancer associated with induced abortion. But biased researchers (including Howe herself!) continue to pretend that the Howe study never existed.

Here’s a really sad fact: When the abortion enthusiasts control the media, the medical societies, the universities and the medical journals, as well as the major cancer charities and government health ministries of the world, they create whatever “facts” they want. And they do not care how many people suffer and die—born and unborn—because their “facts” are really just lies.

[1] I also recently addressed this in a piece for NRL News Today at