Media Statement

Friday 8 August, 2014

No reliable evidence exists of an association between abortion and breast cancer

No reliable evidence exists of an association between abortion and breast cancer according to Cancer Council Victoria and Breast Cancer Network Australia. Both organisations dismiss recent claims that abortion (either induced or spontaneous) causes, or increases the risk of, breast cancer.

Researchers have studied a possible link between abortion and breast cancer repeatedly, and the most reliable and rigorous studies have found no link exists.  International expert epidemiologist Associate Professor Karin Michels, of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, is lead author of one of the largest studies in this area. She advises:

“The currently available evidence that is methodologically sound does not suggest an association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk. While there are a number of case-control studies that seem to suggest a link between induced abortion and the risk of breast cancer, these studies are all plagued by the same bias: that women with breast cancer are more likely to volunteer the information that they had an induced abortion than healthy women to whom the women with breast cancer are compared. Many cohort studies have not suggested any link between induced abortion and breast cancer risk, including our data from the very large Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard University in Boston. The methodologically strongest data, however, were collected in Denmark, where the entire female Danish population was included in the study. Since information on induced abortion is captured by a registry in Denmark this meant an objective source of information about which women had had an induced abortion was available. This study, which included 1.5 million women, did not suggest an association between induced abortion and the incidence of breast cancer.”

Cancer Council Victoria and Breast Cancer Network Australia are concerned about the circulation of misinformation on this issue based on comments from organisers and participants of a pro-life event to be hosted in Melbourne later this month.

Such commentary flies in the face of scientific evidence and only increases the distress and anxiety faced by women grappling with the complex emotions and issues associated with either abortion or breast cancer.

Cancer Council Victoria and Breast Cancer Network Australia join a growing number of national and international organisations that reject the beliefs of American doctor Angela Lanfranchi. These include Cancer Australia, the World Health Organisation, the American Cancer Society and the US National Cancer Institute.

Updated: 08 Aug, 2014