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Abortion and Breast Cancer: Denial reaches Asian research

by | Aug 20, 2015

By Joel Brind, Ph.D.

Joel Brind, Ph.D.

Joel Brind, Ph.D.

Editor’s note. My family will be on vacation through the end of next week. I will be posting an occasional new story, but for the most part we will be re-posting columns that ran over the last year. Many will be strictly educational while some will about remind us of notable victories this legislative cycle.

Over the last couple of years, a tsunami of Asian studies—largely from China and South Asia—have sadly confirmed that the Abortion-breast cancer link (ABC link) is real and spreading to Asia, with a predictably staggering impact on millions of Asian women. Meanwhile, the Western, politically correct medical authorities have totally ignored this, continuing to rely upon flawed “recent” research that dates back a decade and more.

Use of out-of-date and incorrect result has not changed. What is new—in both Chinese and Indian research—is a Western style broom that would sweep the evidence under the proverbial rug.

First, let’s discuss China. Recall (as I reported in NRL News Today in December 2013) the 2013 meta-analysis of 36 Chinese studies by Yubei Huang, et al.

The Huang study confirmed what we had reported in our meta-analysis of worldwide ABC link research in 1996—an overall 30% increased breast cancer risk among women who’d had any abortions. (A meta-analysis pools the results of many studies.) But they reported a larger risk increase—44%—which went up with the number of abortions—to 89% for women with three or more abortions.

Even more compelling was the Huang study included a meta-regression analysis. In English that simply means that the regression shows that the ABC link is masked when the prevalence of abortion is so high that most women have had at least one abortion, because there is no proper comparison group.

Huang et al. even cited—with proper attribution–the explanation for this anomaly which I had published in 2004.

So I wondered how long this validation of the ABC link (and the vindication of my own work) would be allowed to stand unanswered. Not too long, it turns out.

Just 3 months ago, in the same prestigious journal—Cancer Causes and Control—that published Huang’s 2014 meta-analysis, comes an “updated systematic review and meta-analysis based on prospective studies.”

(As we have explained at NRL News previously, there are two kinds of studies. One is retrospective in design—i.e., based on data gathered at interview and/or on questionnaires from breast cancer patients v. healthy women. By contrast prospective data-based studies gather data before anyone in the study has been diagnosed with breast cancer. )

The new meta-analysis is not even of Chinese studies. Rather, it is of worldwide studies based on prospective data. It includes the 1997 Danish study by Mads Melbye et al., which study’s egregious flaws I have documented in great detail over the years. It also included a slew of other prospective studies similarly flawed, which had managed to arrive at a conclusion of no ABC link.

Sorry to say, Dr. Huang, a proper meta-analysis of prospective studies would have excluded most of those studies you reviewed and tallied in your new study. In fairness, included in their discussion was the statement that “most early cohort (prospective) studies suffered from potential methodological flaws as argued by Brind and colleagues.” They also cited no fewer than six of my own published critiques, as well as our 1996 meta-analysis.

But who reads the whole paper and is even aware of what is buried in the discussion section? What matters is the actual bottom line: The “conclusion,” which appears at the end of the abstract: “The current prospective evidences are not sufficient to support the positive association between abortion and breast cancer risk.”

That’s how the game is played: A major study comes out with some real credibility for the ABC link. Then a subsequent study makes the original conclusion equivocal. Eventually, the original conclusion that there is a real ABC link becomes suspect, and then officially discredited. It was “discredited” back in 2003, but as the stubborn fact of the ABC link keeps reappearing, the official purveyors of public health information now have to tackle all the evidence from Asia.

Which brings us, with the most current study, to South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka). Just last August, I reported in NRL News Today “on the explosion of new studies from South Asia, of which at least a dozen have appeared (that I know about) just since 2008: nine in India and one each in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”

It was also striking that every single one of these studies reported increased breast cancer risk with induced abortion, with relative risks as high as 10-fold (one study in India) and over 20-fold (one study in Bangladesh). In fact, the average risk increase reported in the 12 South Asian studies was over 450%!

Now, the South Asian tally stands at 14 studies showing the ABC link (11 from India), with the latest Indian study officially coming out this week. And this study, by VR Mohite et al., speaks volumes in terms of how its findings –a significant ABC link, like the other South Asian studies– are reported and discussed. The Mohite study was on women from rural Maharashtra (the state where the “Bollywood” movies are made), but was not published in an Indian medical journal; rather, in the Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science.

With 14 South Asian studies in the last 7 years reporting that women who’ve had an abortion have an increased risk of breast cancer one might expect that Mohite et al. would cite several of them and conclude that they have confirmed this universally reported finding among South Asian women. This would be all the more expected since the only other study reported in a Bangladeshi journal—the 2013 study of Jabeen et al. on Bangladeshi women—reported the astonishingly high risk increase of almost 2,000 percent!

But no: The Mohite study is a classic example of minimization. Their bottom line (the “conclusion” at the end of the abstract)?

They reported that standard reproductive risk factors such as nulliparity [women who have not borne children] and not breastfeeding were “strongly associated with breast cancer.” But they do not mention abortion at all!

No, to find any mention of abortion you need to go to the body of the paper, at the end of which you find the very same conclusion as in the abstract, but with the following clause appended: “however, weak association was seen with factors such as age at menarche and history of abortion.”

Their discussion section is most revealing, in discussing their own finding of a statistically significant relative risk of 1.6 (60% increased risk). They say “Similar finding has also been reported by Ozmen V (2009).”

True enough, the 2009 study by Ozmen et al. on Turkish women did report a similar relative risk of 1.66. But what about all the other studies from South Asia?

None are cited.

Instead, the reference to the Ozmen study is followed by “However several other studies have contradictory results about association of abortion and breast cancer,” with the citation of a politically correct, 1997 review by Wingo et al. in the US.

What a breathtaking omission! But there’s more: For that, we go to Table 2 of the Mohite study, where we find the raw data. There, they only show the odds ratio (the relative risk statistic) for women with one or more abortions compared to women with not abortions.

They show the odds ratio of 1.6 (although their raw data calculates out to 1.66, which they round off to 1.6 instead of 1.7), and also report that there were 12 women in the study who’d had more than one abortion, and that 11 of the 12 were in the breast cancer group!

That calculates out to a relative risk of 12.0–a risk increase of 1,100 percent! But that statistic is never mentioned anywhere in the paper: the reader needs to calculate it from the raw data.

So you want to show the world that there is no ABC link? Just look at the most recent papers on the subject from Asia, where abortions are now commonplace and a breast cancer epidemic is raging but which deny the link between induced abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer.

Just move along, please. There’s nothing to see here.