How could abortion cause breast cancer?

At the beginning of pregnancy there are great increases in certain hormone levels (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, and hCG) that support pregnancy. In response to these changes, breast cells divide and mature into cells able to produce milk. Abortion causes an abrupt fall in hormone levels, leaving the breast cells in an immature state. These immature cells can more easily become cancer cells.1

Has this been proven?

Yes. Of 73 studies worldwide since 1957, 53 showed that women who experienced an induced abortion had an increased risk of breast cancer.2 In 1996 Joel Brind, PhD3, assembled the results of all the studies up to that time. Brind concluded that women who have an abortion before their first full-term pregnancy have a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer while those who have an abortion after their first full-term pregnancy have a 30% increased risk.

What does it mean to have “a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer?”

A 50% increased risk means a 50% higher risk than someone would have otherwise. For example, if a person already had a 30% risk of developing breast cancer, then a 50% increase would bring the risk up to 45%.

What is the risk for young women?

Janet Daling noted in 19944 that women younger than 18 who had an abortion experienced a 150% increased risk of developing breast cancer. This became an 800% increased risk if they had their abortions between the 9th and 24th week of pregnancy.

How serious a problem is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the worldwide leading cancer in women and is the most common cause of cancer death for U.S. women age 20 to 59. In the U.S. in the year 2011, 220,097 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,931 women died from this disease.5 About one U.S. woman out of eight will develop breast cancer at some time in her life and about one fourth of such women will die from this disease. Induced abortion, especially at a young age, markedly increases a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer. This risk is increased even further by other breast cancer risk factors such as synthetic hormones (including hormonal contraceptives like the birth control pill, Norplant and Depo-Provera), family history of breast cancer, and others.6

The U.S. has one of the highest rates of induced abortion and hormonal contraceptive use in the world, especially for young women. The breast cancer rate in the U.S. is rising, and will likely rise even higher once the latent period (the time it takes for cancer to develop) for these women has passed.

Calculations based on available studies indicate that induced abortion may result in over 46,800 additional cases of breast cancer in the U.S. annually.

For more information on abortion and its link to breast cancer please give us a call. 321-422-4168 or visit 


1. Lanfranchi A. Normal breast physiology: the reasons hormonal contraceptives and induced abortion increase breast-cancer risk. Issues Law Med. 2014 Spring; 29(1): 135-146.
2. Epidemiologic Studies: Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk, retrieved from December 9 2014.
3. Brind J, Chinchilli M, et al. Induced abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health. 10/ 1996; 50: 481-496.
4. Daling J, Malone K, et al. Risk of breast cancer among young women: relationship to induced abortion. JNCI. 1994; 86: 1584-1592.
5. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2011 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2014.
6. Yankaskas BC. Epidemiology of breast cancer in young women. Breast Dis. 2005-2006; 23: 3-8.

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