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According to an article recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, both induced and spontaneous abortions are not associated with an increased risk of 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 inconsistent study results have raised concerns that induced abortions may increase the risk of developing breast cancer, several large studies have disputed this issue.

One such study, conducted by researchers affiliated with the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, further evaluated a potential link between induced or spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) and a risk of developing breast cancer. This study included 100,000 women involved in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were predominantly premenopausal (aged 26 to 46 years of age). The study began in 1993; follow-up was approximately 10 years.

  • 15% of participants reported an induced abortion and 21% of participants reported a spontaneous abortion.
  • Induced or spontaneous abortions were not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Number of abortions, age at abortion, having given birth, or timing of abortion during the pregnancy did not affect risk of breast cancer.
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The researchers concluded that “neither induced nor spontaneous abortion was associated with the incidence of breast cancer.” These results provide further evidence that abortions, whether induced or spontaneous, do not affect the risk of developing breast cancer.

Reference: Michels K, Xue F, Colditz G, et al. Induced and spontaneous abortion and incidence of breast cancer among young women. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2007; 167:814-820.

Related News:Induced Abortions Not Tied to Increased Breast Cancer Risk (6/26/2006)

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