According to an early online article in the International Journal of Cancer, women who have had induced abortions are not at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed annually with breast cancer in the U.S. alone. When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated early (prior to spread from the breast), cure rates are high following standard therapy. However, cure rates fall dramatically once the cancer has spread. Therefore, identifying factors associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer is important; patients at higher risk may benefit from more frequent screening to detect the disease in its earliest stages.
Although there has been concern that induced abortions may increase the risk of developing breast cancer, several large studies have disputed this issue.
Researchers from Europe recently conducted a study to further evaluate a possible association between induced abortions and breast cancer risk. This study included 267,361 women who had been enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition between 1992 and 2000.
The data included 4,805 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1,657 of these women reported having had any type of abortion. The data in this study included women from nine countries and 20 medical centers.
- The risk of breast cancer was not increased among women who had experienced a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage); however, the risk became slightly higher if a woman had experienced two or more spontaneous abortions.
- The risk of breast cancer was not increased among women who had ever undergone an induced abortion compared to women who had not undergone an induced abortion.
The researchers concluded that these data provide further evidence that induced abortions do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Reference: Reeves G, Kan S-W, Key T, et al. Breast Cancer Risk in Relation to Abortion: Results from the EPIC Study. International Journal of Cancer. 2006. Early online publication April 27, 2006. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.22001.