Abortion/Breast Cancer Link Disputed
Women's Health Action executive director, Sandra Coney, today disputed the claim of a visiting doctor, Dr Joel Brind, that abortion increased the risk of breast cancer.
Dr Brind is on a speaking tour of New Zealand as the guest of Family Life International.
Sandra Coney said that Dr Brind and the organisation that brought him here were wrong to scare women with theories that have been shown to be wrong.
'People opposed to abortion will go to any lengths to try and scare women from having abortions.'
'Dr Brind's research has been superceded by more recent, more reliable research,' said Sandra Coney. His 1996 review has been criticised because the result may have been affected by recall bias. It reviewed case-control studies which compared the rate of abortions among women who had had breast cancer and healthy women and concluded that women with cancer were more likely to have had a termination. The issue of recall bias is that women with breast cancer may be more likely to reveal they have had an abortion than healthy women in the community, especially where there is a stigma attached to abortion.
A much better designed study, published in 1997, found no difference in breast cancer rates between women who had had abortions and those who had not.
Dr Brind uses as support for his position The Global Action Plan Report which emerged from the first World Conference on Breast Cancer held in 1997.
Sandra Coney was an International Reviewer for the Report and is critical that the Report was not an evidence-based document.
'Many of the claims made in that report do not have evidence to back them up,' she said. 'In my review I drew attention to these poorly researched areas, including the supposed link between abortion and breast cancer.'
It is notable also, she said, that the Ministry of Health deleted reference to breast cancer from its controversial abortion booklet because there was no adequate evidence of the link.