Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breast cancer, abortion, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Americans rightly want to help breast cancer victims and prevent future suffering and death from the terrible disease. Why? Because we recognize the dignity of our fellow human persons, who deserve our care, regard and compassion.

Tragically, one major breast cancer organization -- Susan G. Komen for the Cure -- actively supports Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading performer and promoter of abortion. Many of the group's affiliates award grants to the abortion chain. In 2010 18 Komen affiliates gave a total of more than $569,000 to Planned Parenthood; affiliates gave almost $4 million from 2004 to 2010. It does not appear that the Minnesota Komen affiliate gives to Planned Parenthood.

Support for Planned Parenthood contradicts the very same principle of human dignity that undergirds our commitment to helping breast cancer victims in the first place. Abortion is the unjust killing of young human beings, whose age, size, ability (or inability) and dependency do not disqualify them from the respect and protection that is owed to every member of the human family.

Komen says the money it gives to Planned Parenthood does not go toward abortion. But the money is fungible, and any funding supports Planned Parenthood's continued existence and work, which is centered on abortion. To subsidize Planned Parenthood is to subsidize the abortion industry, effectively increasing the number of abortions that take place. Moreover, breast-related care is better provided by other organizations and programs. Planned Parenthood does not even perform mammograms -- women must go elsewhere for serious health care. (Learn more about Planned Parenthood and the debate over its funding here.)

Komen's support for Planned Parenthood is tragically ironic in a second way: A large body of evidence suggests that abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. Dr. Gerard Nadal explains:
For a half-century now, well over a hundred studies have indicated a link between abortion and breast cancer, with increased risks being upward of 50% for abortions before a first full-term pregnancy, with many showing increased risks above 100%.

The biological explanation for this link is very simple and has been demonstrated repeatedly in animal studies. Prior to a first full term pregnancy a woman's breasts are not fully developed, with her lobules made up of immature and cancer-prone Type 1 and Type 2 cells. When she conceives a child, estrogen levels rise dramatically, along with the pregnancy hormone HCG, which stimulate the lobules to undergo massive cell proliferation, roughly doubling in number. These first trimester events leave the woman with twice as many cells where cancer can start.

At the end of the second trimester, the baby begins to protect the mother by secreting the hormone human placental lactogen. This hormone matures the lobule cells into cancer-resistant Type 4 cells, which will produce milk. By the end of the pregnancy 85% of the lobule cells will have undergone this differentiation. The remaining 15% will undergo differentiation to Type 4 Cells during breastfeeding and subsequent pregnancies.

As animal studies bear out, if pregnancy is ended by abortion the woman is left with twice as many immature, cancer-prone cells where cancer can start, but she does not derive the protective effect of the third trimester.
Learn more about the link between abortion and breast cancer here and here.