Posts Tagged ‘Epidemiology’

Jill Stanek runs an excellent commentary concerning the ongoing fallout from the recent study showing a forty percent increased probability of breast cancer among women who have had abortions.

Two of the paper’s authors are noteworthy. Dr. Louise Brinton chaired the infamous 203 National Cancer Institute panel that declared no link between abortion and breast cancer, dismissing a good number of retrospective studies indicating otherwise in favor of premature analyses of prospective (longitudinal) studies whose subjects lacked sufficient time to have developed breast cancer. The decisiveness of this linkage denial, dismissing a body of sound, mature data in favor of data not yet ripened was stunning.

The other author in question is Dr. Kathi Malone, who dismisses the significance of her own paper, stating, “There are no new findings related to induced abortion in this paper because the results of these women were published previously.” These words need to be considered in light of the paper’s own clear and unambiguous statements.

The study in question, Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years, actually lists abortion and oral contraceptive use under, “The following known and suspected breast cancer risk factors were examined…”

Lest any seize upon abortion and oral contraceptive use as only being suspected, and not known risk factors, consider the first paragraph of the paper’s Results section.

In the results section of the paper,

“In analyses of all 897 breast cancer cases (subtypes combined), the multivariate-adjusted odds ratios for examined risk factors were consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women. Specifically, older age, family history of breast cancer, earlier menarche age, induced abortion and oral contraceptive use were associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.”

So if Malone is correct in stating that the linkage is nothing new, having been reported before, why hasn’t NCI revised its position paper on the breast cancer-abortion link? Taken at her word, not only are these linkage data not new, but they have been confirmed by Brinton and Malone.

These are some of the several signifiant and disturbing features of this story, all of which undermine the essential trust of the citizens, who fund this research and stand to gain from it, and the scientific community.

Abortion is held out by women as an absolute good for women. If the epidemiological data suggest that abortion harms women, then why are these data being downplayed? It is precisely such a doctrinaire, ideologically driven approach that science and the scientific method are meant to ameliorate for the good of humanity. The a priori assumption that abortion is an absolute good with neither significant physical or psychological sequelae is increasingly being challenged by an emerging body of literature to the contrary.

But scientists are slow to relinquish their orthodoxies, especially those which have become woven into the fabric of the body politic. Nevertheless, the scientific community would be well advised to pull back from this unqualified endorsement of abortion, as its credibility is on the line.

A doctoral degree, especially the research-oriented Ph.D., is the gold standard for any who would perform research. The granting of a Ph.D. is an acceptance of the graduate student as a peer at the highest levels of academia, and carries with it the imprimatur of the scientific community, assuring all that this individual can be trusted to perform and report credible research in an independent and ethical manner without the need for oversight. It is at once a great honor and an awesome responsibility. It is a sacred trust, a covenant.

Betrayal of such trust by a single act of partisan orthodoxy which leads to the denial or suppression of the data and their conclusions forever shatters the trust of one’s peers and the public. Such has been the case with these researchers who have suppressed critical data repeatedly, beginning with the spurious premature interpretations of the data sets on two large prospective studies that led to the infamous NCI and American Cancer Society declarations in 2003 denying a link between breast cancer and abortion. The denial of the plain meaning of their own text, and hewing to the NCI position, despite their own report is an egregious act of politically inspired scientific fraud.

If Brinton and Malone cannot stand by their own words, if they cannot revise the NCI position to one of at least uncertainty, then they have committed the unforgivable sin among Ph.D.’s. They’ve lied.

Women are dying and we need to know why. If NCI and ACS can’t cobble together a panel of honest scientists, the sin upon their heads, and a pox on both of their houses.

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