Breast Cancer Prevention Institute Fact Sheet
Re: Review of Abortion-Breast
Cancer link (ABC link) at National Cancer Institute
(NCI) workshop on "Early Reproductive Events
and Breast Cancer Risk", held Feb 24-26, 2003
- What was supposed to happen did not happen, i.e.,
no "comprehensive review" of extant literature
on abortion-breast cancer link (ABC link). The conference
was in fact set up so that it could not happen,
- Workshop Chairperson Louise Brinton, a senior
NCI epidemiologist, exercised major control over
which scientists were to be invited.
- Invited experts were not independent; rather mostly
dependent on NCI and/or other federal agencies for
their grants. (The chilling effect of this is not
speculation, but learned from various statements
of such scientists, made personally and off the
- Contrary to stated intention to exclude experts
believed to have preconceived conclusions or strongly
held ideas about abortion, invited experts included
many with known pro-abortion extremist positions.
For example, Lynn Rosenberg and Julie Palmer have
both served as paid expert witnesses for abortion
providers in court challenges to parental notification
(LR; Florida, 1999) and parental consent (JP, Alaska,
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- Main expert invited to make the formal ABC link
presentation was not a scientist who had published
in this area (e.g., Janet Daling, who was asked
to present on another topic, or Joel Brind, who
was not asked to present at all).
- Main expert invited to make the formal ABC link
presentation was Leslie Bernstein, whose main area
of expertise is obesity and exercise in relation
to breast cancer.
- New "late breaking" data showing no
ABC link were presented by Drs. Bernstein, Melbye
and Newcomb, with no opportunity for actually scrutinizing
such data. In fact, on the record during the Q&A
following Dr. Bernstein's lecture, Dr. Brind asked
if the data would be made available during the workshop.
Dr. Bernstein replied that she would not make it
available until its publication. New data should
have been made available to workshop participants
before the workshop began. However,
- Events of that day (2/25) were missing from the
video record on NCI website for two months.
- Conference was ended abruptly, with general session
scheduled to be the penultimate session, made the
final session, allowing no opportunity for any final
statements expressing any dissent with the workshop's
- No minority or dissenting report was solicited.
Nevertheless, a dissenting opinion was filed with
the NCI as a "minority report" by Dr.
Joel Brind (one of the invited participants). The
NCI website (www.cancer.gov) does not contain this
report (which is posted on the BCPI website: www.bcpinstitute.org).
While the NCI website makes mention of the minority
report, it contains only a small quotation from
it, does not identify the author, nor does it provide
any link or contact information.
- Findings were listed on NCI's website without
any indication of any disagreement, yet, approval
of findings by NCI Boards of Scientific Advisors
and Scientific Counselors was described as "unanimous".
- Approval of findings by NCI Boards of Scientific
Advisors and Scientific Counselors was virtually
instantaneous (on March 4th, the day findings were
- Actual finding of level 1 evidence ("well
established") that "Induced abortion is
not associated with an increase in breast cancer
risk." runs counter to over 40 years of published
evidence, 29 of 38 worldwide epidemiological studies
showing increased risk (with 13 of 15 studies on
US women showing increased risk, 8 achieving at
least borderline statistical significance).
- The connection between pre-term births and breast
cancer was listed as an "epidemiological gap-not
even level 2, 3, or 4 evidence-despite the fact
that, as pointed out by Dr Brind at the final session,
Dr. Melbye's own group has provided excellent evidence
of the risk-increasing effect of early pre-term
births (before 32 weeks) using the same population
database and the same statistical methodology (without
the flaws in the abortion study), in agreement with
the work of others. The discrepancy in the conclusions
by the workshop vis-à-vis these two variables
is glaring, especially since the workshop relied
heavily on Melbye's data to conclude there is no
- When Dr Brind raised this concern at the final
session, no one addressed it at all, not even Dr.
Melbye, who was present at the time. (This is on
the video record of 2/26.)
- Even if, for the sake of argument, one were to
ignore any effect of induced abortion as an independent
risk factor (i.e., as an exposure that increases
risk beyond the risk level attributable to the non-pregnant
state) it is grossly misleading to suggest that
induced abortion has no effect on future breast
cancer risk. Induced abortion has no meaning except
in the case where a pregnancy is already under way.
Since aborting a pregnancy denies a woman the long-term
protective effect of a full-term pregnancy, it is
unarguable that a woman's long-term risk of breast
cancer will be greater if she chooses abortion over
- Therefore, information provided to the public
by the NCI, including on its website, should state
this unequivocally, in order to provide meaningful
guidance to women considering abortion. Anything
less would only be the result of willful deception,
as exemplified by:
- The press statement made after the workshop, by
Dr. Bernstein (who made the only full formal presentation
on the ABC link at the workshop): "
though the findings clearly show that 'the biggest
bang for the buck is the first birth and the younger
you are the better off you are,
so many other messages we can give women about lifestyle
modification and the impact of lifestyle and risk
that I would never be a proponent of going around
and telling them that having babies is the way to
reduce your risk.'" (www.cancerpage.com, 3/3/03),
which begs the follow-up question:
- "Even if they are already pregnant?"