It has long been disputed among medical researchers that induced abortion (IA) puts women at a higher risk for breast cancer. According to the American College of Pediatricians, this argument is supported by an increasing number of studies which “show that IA prior to 32 weeks in and of itself is a risk factor for breast cancer due to the physiology of breast development and the manner in which abortion interferes with the maturation of the breast cells.”1
Put simply, the ductwork (or lobules) within a woman’s breasts develops in stages. The early stage of this ductwork consists of Type 1 and Type 2 lobules. These immature lobules are known to be more susceptible to cancer.
During pregnancy, estrogen encourages the body to increase the number of Type 1 and Type 2 lobules. This rapid growth often causes breasts to feel sore or tender in early pregnancy. By week 32, the majority of those Type 1 and Type 2 lobules mature into Type 4 milk-producing lobules, which are significantly more cancer-resistant. However, interrupting pregnancy before 32 weeks, while Type 1 and Type 2 lobules are at an increased number but before they can mature into Type 4 lobules, puts a woman at increased risk for breast cancer.2
75% of a woman’s pre-pregnancy lobules are Type 1, where 80% of all breast cancers are formed. “Immature breast cells are particularly vulnerable to damage by carcinogens … from puberty to a woman’s first full term pregnancy.”3
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1 American College of Pediatricians. (2013). http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/health-issues/abortion-and-the-risk-of-breast-cancer-information-for-the-adolescent-woman-and-her-parents
2 Lanfranchi AE, Fagan P (2014). Breast Cancer and Induced Abortion: A Comprehensive Review
of Breast Development and Pathophysiology, the Epidemiologic Literature, and Proposal for Creation of Databanks to
Elucidate All Breast Cancer Risk Factors. Issues Law Med, 29(1).
3 Cornell University. Estrogen & Breast Cancer Risk: The Relationship. (1998). http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/14538/1/fs9.estrogen.pdf