The Truth About Abortion and Cancer Risk
Learn how you can advocate for women’s reproductive rights, as well as debunk the myths surrounding abortion and breast cancer risk.
There is no scientific evidence indicating that having an abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society itself states, “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer”1.
However, this doesn’t keep opponents of safe and legal abortion from making false claims based on unfounded studies.
This misinformation leads to dangerous consequences for women.
The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States ends a women’s right to a safe and legal abortion. It’s absolutely critical we do our best to set the record straight, and debunk any myths surrounding abortion and cancer risk.
Why is this myth so popular?
According to the American Cancer Society, the best way to test if something causes cancer is to do a randomized study2. In these types of studies half the group is exposed to the carcinogen (in this case it would be abortion) and the other half are not. Obviously, this isn’t an ethical study to perform.
Therefore, studies relating to abortion and cancer risk are often observational studies. In these studies, researchers gather information about people and try to assess if certain factors are linked to specific outcomes.
These types of studies are not the most accurate as they can be subject to different biases—such as recall bias.
Specifically, if someone does have cancer they’re more likely to tell researchers about things that healthy people don’t even remember. They’re also more likely to tell researchers about things that would normally feel too personal, such as abortion. This skews results and doesn’t provide for a strong study.
The myth of abortion causing different types of cancer is so popular, because opponents to safe and legal abortions are using these unfounded and bias studies as evidence.
Does abortive pregnancy increase breast cancer risk?
Over the years, many different studies have been conducted on abortion and cancer risk. Specifically, a study conducted on abortion and cancer risk analyzed 100,000 females ages 40-65 years of age, over a 10 year period. There was no relationship found between breast cancer risk and induced abortion for females3.
Another study, known to be the largest and most reliable on the topic of abortion and cancer risk, was done in Denmark in the 1990s.
Denmark keeps very detailed records on citizens, and all Danish women born between 1935-1978 were cross referenced with The National Registry of Induced Abortions and the Danish Cancer Registry. There was no recall bias and the study concluded there was no link between induced abortions and the risk of breast cancer4.
Based on these studies and others, abortive pregnancy has not been shown to increase the risk of getting breast cancer.
How to advocate for abortion and reproductive rights
The outlawing of safe and legal abortions puts many women at risk.
We all have a responsibility to support each other, and help others make informed decisions—especially at the polls.
Do your part in advocation for abortion and reproductive rights. Some ways you can advocate for abortion access and rights include:
Misinformation has played a huge part in recent events in the United States—specifically the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It’s absolutely critical you stay informed, knowledgeable, and up-to-date on the latest research, so you can advocate for the science.
Voicing your opinion
Your voice matters! Especially in the fight for abortion access. Now is not the time to be silent. The more you speak out, the more others feel comfortable to speak out too.
Abortion can be a very personal topic, but when people hear others’ personal anecdotes—it helps them see the movement in a different light. Post about abortion access and rights on social media. Use relevant hashtags, such as #BansOffOurBodies, when posting so people can find your posts. Repost shout-outs from other abortion right supporters. Do your part to make noise and make your opinion heard!
Donating where you can
Many women rely on donations to fund safe abortions. If you’re in a position to do so, do your part and donate to abortion funds where you can. The National Network for Abortion Funds will connect you to local funds in your area.
Researching and supporting reproductive justice organizations
When abortion is outlawed, the people that suffer most are people of color and other marginalized populations. This is due to structural racism inherently present in our communities and healthcare system.
Many reproductive justice organizations are centered on fighting for reproductive justice for these marginalized populations. Follow these organizations on social media, become a member, and donate where you can.
Some organizations include:
Sister Strong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
Being an informed voter
As we head into midterm elections, being an informed voter is crucial! Don’t be afraid to ask candidates where they stand on reproductive justice, spread the word, and demand commitments from officials. Also advocate for others to register to vote if they have not yet. Every vote counts in the fight for reproductive justice.
Overall, the fight for reproductive justice for women is just getting started—especially in the United States. Do your part, stay informed, and advocate for the science.
Be sure to stay up-to-date with organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Planned Parenthood for the most up-to-date facts and latest ways to get involved in the movement.
1 - https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/medical-treatments/abortion-and-breast-cancer-risk.html#references
2 - https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/medical-treatments/abortion-and-breast-cancer-risk.html#references
3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7220471/#R12
4 - https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/medical-treatments/abortion-and-breast-cancer-risk.html