Dr. Dawg

Calgary Herald peddles abortion lies

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Abortion connected to breast cancer? No way, except in the tiny febrile minds of “pro-life” propagandists—like the Calgary Herald’s Susan Martinuk.

It’s time to put this lie—for lie it is—to rest.

Here is Martinuk:

For the past 15 years, there’s been a growing controversy over the link between induced abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. In 1996, a paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health provided the first evidence of a connection between abortion and breast cancer. Pooled data from 28 studies demonstrated that women who had abortions had increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 30 per cent. Subsequent studies supposedly disproved this association, but a 2005 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons paper showed these studies had methodologies that were sufficiently flawed “to invalidate their findings.” And, in 2007, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons reported that induced abortion was the risk factor that best predicted the incidence of breast cancer in European women.

In 2009, a key researcher at the National Cancer Institute reversed her position and stated that abortion is a significant factor in raising the risk of breast cancer. Dr. Louise Brinton co-authored a 2009 study stating that induced abortion increased the risk of triple-negative breast cancer by 40 per cent in women under 45. The paper, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, stated the above and then lent its support to previous studies by saying that this increase was “consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women.”

This means Komen is raising money to fight breast cancer at the same time as it is handing that money to causes that appear to be a contributing cause to that very disease.

Now, lets look at this piffle piece by piece.

First, there is no “growing controversy” about an alleged “link” between abortion and breast cancer. It’s a dying one, and it’s high time to pull the plug.

Here’s the National Cancer Institute, disingenuously mentioned by Martinuk:

In February 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. Workshop participants reviewed existing population-based, clinical, and animal studies on the relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. They concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. A summary of their findings can be found in the Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop.

NCI regularly reviews and analyzes the scientific literature on many topics, including various risk factors for breast cancer. Considering the body of literature that has been published since 2003, when NCI held this extensive workshop on early reproductive events and cancer, the evidence overall still does not support early termination of pregnancy as a cause of breast cancer.

As for poor misquoted Louise Brinton, here’s the abstract of the paper cited by Martinuk. Note that abortion isn’t even mentioned.

And here’s a sound critique of the subsequent “pro-life” propaganda barrage. This extract in particular is worth reproducing:

Dr. Brinton’s co-researcher and co-author [on the 2009 paper cited by Martinuk], Kathi Malone, is clear about what this and all peer-reviewed studies show thus far on the link between abortion and breast cancer:

“The weight of scientific evidence to date strongly indicates that abortion doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer.”

Clear enough? Well, not for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, cited twice by Martinuk. Sounds like an impressive peer-reviewed publication, eh?

Sadly, no. It’s the house organ of a zany collection of fundie cranks:

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative American non-profit organization founded in 1943 to “fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine.” The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 3,000 in 2011. Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey; the executive director is Jane Orient, a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

AAPS publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, but the journal is not included in Web of Science or MEDLINE/PubMed lists of peer-reviewed scientific sources.] The organization, its members, and the journal have all been the subjects of criticism from mainstream medical sources.

In the past, contributing authors have opposed vaccination, claimed that the HIV virus doesn’t cause AIDS, jumped on the climate change denier bandwagon (please note the principal author’s nutty provenance), and even taken exception to the theory of evolution.

It’s surely not too much to expect the Calgary Herald to act responsibly towards its readership, instead of spreading false news and sowing public alarm based on lies. Why should bloggers be left to do the basic fact-checking that editors used to do when they took their profession seriously?

[H/t fern hill at DAMMIT JANET!]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on February 10, 2012 5:55 PM.

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