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The first I'd ever read or heard re: induced abortion as a risk factor for serious later illness was through macrobiotics, in the mid 1980's. Its practitioners were at that time certain that one major "yang" cause of multiple sclerosis was previous abortion, explaining its sudden dispersal of the intensely centripetal Ki flow of early pregnancy as later leading to MS or other weakening of the legs (see Michio Kushi's Natural Healing Through Macrobiotics, Japan Pubs., Tokyo, 1978).
Throughout the 1980's and 90's I was reading and hearing snippets of information linking abortion to breast cancer, and I'd often marveled at the rise of both, within the same demographic, over the same last 3 decades of the last century. Various macrobiotic practitioners, including Naburo Muramoto, had espoused a belief in this link.
Recently, I read The Cost of "Choice": Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion (edited by Erika Bachiochi, Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2004), especially for its middle section, "Abortion and Women's Health", containing three chapters. The chapter on the Abortion-Breast Cancer link, by Angela Lanfranchi, MD, cofounder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, is positively compelling, supplying data that show the following:
1. Breast cancer is the ONLY major cancer that has continued rising in incidence
2. There are 17 statistically significant studies showing a link between abortion and later breast cancer, 8 of which were conducted in the US.
3. Abortion before age 18 or after age 30, with no prior term birth, increases breast cancer risk substantially.
4. The more estrogen a woman is exposed to in her lifetime, the higher her risk for breast cancer (e.g., early menarche, late menopause, estrogen replacement therapy, birth control pills).
5. The earlier in life that a woman's breasts develop from Type 1 (female infant to early pregnancy) and Type 2 (adult female through early pregnancy) to mature Type 3 and 4 lobules (Late pregnancy/lactation-readiness ONLY) the lower her risk of breast cancer. Type 1 and 2 lobules are known to be where cancers arise, and these proliferate dramatically during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy. Youthful full term pregnancy thus protects a woman, lowering her risk of breast cancer(And this is why childless women have a higher rate of breast cancer: They, too, never develop those Type 3 and 4 lobules that act, effectively, as a prevention factor).
6. It is only after 32 weeks of pregnancy that a woman's breasts stop growing larger and THEN mature into Type 3 and 4 lobules in preparation for breastfeeding. ANY premature birth, before 32 weeks, more than doubles breast cancer risk. NOTE: There is NO medical dispute that premature deliveries cause increased breast cancer risk. (But were you told?)
7. Women who first give birth after age 30 (an increasingly prevalent cultural pattern in the US today) are at increased risk for breast cancer.
[Note: About 95% of my first-time postpartum clientele is over 30]
There follows an essay by Elizabeth Shadigan, MD, supplying more numbers:
Approximately 25% of all pregnancies in the US are deliberately terminated (between 1.2 and 1.6 million/year). Therefore, if there is even a small positive or negative effect of induced abortion on subsequent maternal health, many, many women - and their families - will be affected.
Dr. Shadigan cites current research suggesting that a history of induced abortion is associated with an increased long-term risk of:
1. breast cancer
2. placenta previa
3. pre-term birth
4. maternal suicide
A girl's decision to have an abortion instead of a full-term pregnancy at age 18 can almost double her 5-year and lifetime risk of breast cancer at age 50, regardless of race. Again, we see the finding that the risk of breast cancer is increased if the abortion is performed before a first full-term pregnancy. In sum, Dr. Shadigan confirms that the risk of breast cancer increases with induced abortion when:
(1) the induced abortion precedes a first full-term pregnancy
(2) the woman is a teenager
(3) the woman is over the age of 30
(4) the pregnancy is terminated at more than 12 weeks' gestation
(5) the woman has a family history of breast cancer.
Get this: ALL (100%) of the women in one study who had a family history of breast cancer AND aborted their first pregnancy as teenagers developed breast cancer by age 45.
Induced abortion was found to increase risk of later placenta previa by approximately 50%. Substantially increased risk for very early premature deliveries (at 20-30 weeks) where there's been a history of induced abortion, was also found.
* * * * * * * * * *
The three MD's presenting in this section are outraged that 'political considerations' prevent this knowlege from being shared with patients or presented to their colleagues at conferences, as if preventing educated consent can be considered either Good Medicine or Good Politics.
Recently I had dinner with a friend who was discussing the way(s) in which political considerations have driven AIDS research and disclosure. I asked him, "Can you imagine a man with AIDS NOT being asked by his own doctor whether he's homosexual?" We agreed that that would be scandalous; the patient with serious and perhaps terminal illness is not permitted (by the responsible physician) ignorance of known risk factors impacting his illness...usually.
Most importantly, responsible preventative measures must be taught to the public. We caution people about "safe sex", but not about abortion's risks? (So how "safe" was that sex?)
Dr. D'Adamo has stated, in his Blood Type Encyclopedia, that there is research implicating vasectomy as a prostate cancer risk-factor. This link, too, is not generally known. Even the birth control pill's health risks were considered "politically incorrect" to mention in the early days of the Sexual Revolution. What does that tell us about that Revolution? Are there subversive elements embedded within it, demanding public ignorance of its risks?
If women (and men) need to be "Free to Choose", then these must be EDUCATED choices. Induced abortion can have serious health repercussions, as can IUDs, Birth Control Pills, "unsafe sex", and vasectomies. All women and men deserve to have these risks candidly explained.
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