In his letter of May 21 on abortion and breast cancer, Dr. Irving Kupferman could hardly be more paternalistic and demeaning to women: "Until the scientific community can find reasonable agreement that there is a genuine casual relationship between cancer and abortion, she (a woman contemplating abortion) should not be encouraged to add to her problems by thinking that abortion is likely to give her serious health problems in the future." At least the governments of Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Kansas have more faith in women's ability to decide for themselves, by requiring that abortion providers warn them about breast cancer. They think women have a right to know the facts necessary to make an informed choice.
Here are some hard, documented facts: 1) 25 out of 31 studies worldwide ¬ 11 out of 12 in the US ¬ have found that women (black, white and Asian) who have chosen abortion have a higher incidence of breast cancer (average 30 percent). 2) The NY State Dept. of Health conducted its own study of upstate and Long Island women, published in 1989 in the International Journal of Epidermiology. That study found a 90 percent increased breast cancer risk among women who had chosen abortion. 3) Data showing increased risk of breast cancer among Australian women who chose abortion were covered up for 7 years - finally revealed in 1995 in the British Journal of Cancer. 4) Data showing increased risk of cancer in Norwegian women who chose abortion were covered up for 12 years ¬ finally revealed this year in the British Medical Association's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 5) The statistical link between abortion and breast cancer is consistent with biological knowledge about what makes breast cancer grow (i.e., estrogen, a woman's greatest exposure to which occurs during the first two trimesters of a normal pregnancy). 6) The lack of a statistical link between spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and breast cancer is consistent with subnormal estrogen levels in most such abnormal pregnancies. 7) Induced abortion dramatically increases the development of breast cancer in laboratory animals. 8) Dr. Phyllis Wingo, the only other expert cited by Dr. Kupferman, stated categorically 12 years ago (when much less evidence was available) in the prominent medical journal the lancet: "Induced abortion before first term pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer." 9) Nine prominent breast cancer researchers declined the opportunity to debate me in Port Washington on May 5, resulting in my 'one-sided' presentation that displeased Dr. Kupferman. 10) Most of the researchers who have documented the abortion-breast cancer connection are "proponents of free choice."
Now here is my opinion: Women having unwanted pregnancies would find their problems less agonizing if abortion were not held out to them as "safe" solution. It isn't. Abortion is the most avoidable risk factor for breast cancer, and women on Long Island and everywhere else have a right to know it.
Joel Brind, Ph.D., Professor, Human Biology and Endiocrinology, Baruch College, The City University, of New York