Thursday, February 02, 2012

Having Forced-Birth Values Increases The Risk of Prostate Cancer in Men!

That's absolutely and totally true, my friends. I can prove it easily. Just call lots of men, ask them about their abortion views and then about whether they have prostate cancer or not, and I'm willing to bet you anything that you find a positive correlation between being opposed to abortion and having prostate cancer. This obviously means that forced-birth views cause prostate cancer. QED.

Except, of course, for that little problem which is that both anti-abortion views and prostate cancer increase with age. Drat.

But such considerations as bad study design never hold people back when it comes to women's cooties and other issues of no interest to anyone else but women. The august Washington Post decided to use the Susan G. Komen case to bring back the idea that abortions cause breast cancer in women. The piece concludes, after admitting that the "research is spotty (hah! blood in the panties)":
But the bulk of evidence appears to argue against abortion’s causing breast cancer. That’s according to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, which offer overviews of existing research and conclusions scientists have come to after examining those studies. While research suggests a slight increased risk of breast cancer among women currently using oral contraceptives, that’s not the case with abortion and breast cancer risk. As the American Cancer Society’s Web site concludes: “Linking these 2 topics creates a great deal of emotion and debate. But scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.”
Komen’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood will certainly revive this debate.

Err. You just revived the debate, you idiot. I should have realized when the Washington Post published an utterly misogynist opinion piece of crap about the inanity of all women that it's not a newspaper that exactly cares about being objective on the topic of women (half of humanity and all that). I'm going to start attacking them from now on, by the way, because enough is enough.

Let's explain to that WaPo writer why all proper studies have failed to establish any kind of correlation between abortion and breast cancer. It's not terribly hard to do, and Googling can help you. Honest.

For instance, it's important to understand that retrospective surveys have serious problems in this context. "Retrospective" means that you look at the data at a point in time when at least some women already have developed breast cancer, and then you ask the women whether they ever had had abortions (including spontaneous abortions) or not in the past.

The bias that is introduced by this method goes like this: First, women in general under-report abortions because of societal disapproval. But second, those women who have breast cancer are less likely to under-report abortions. This is because it is human to try to explore one's past for possible reasons for the cancer, to repent all sorts of stuff and so on. These two things combined can create a spurious (false) correlation between breast cancer, and various types of abortions.

It's not difficult to see how an ideal study of this question should be performed. It needs to be prospective, meaning that the data on abortions is entered when they take place, not at the later time when breast cancers are diagnosed. And it should not be based on the memory and responses of the women themselves but actual medical records.

And you know what? Those ideal studies do exist! Here's what they have found:
Results from major prospective studies
The largest, and probably the most reliable, study on this topic was done during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In this study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (a total of 1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. All of the information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries – it was very complete and was not influenced by recall bias.
After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer. The size of this study and the manner in which it was done provide good evidence that induced abortion does not affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Another large, prospective study was reported on by Harvard researchers in 2007. This study included more than 100,000 women who were between the ages of 29 and 46 at the start of the study in 1993. These women were followed until 2003.
Again, because they were asked about childbirths and abortions at the start of the study, recall bias was unlikely to be a problem. After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found no link between either spontaneous or induced abortions and breast cancer.
The California Teachers Study also reported on more than 100,000 women in 2008. Researchers asked the women in 1995 about past induced and spontaneous abortions. While the women were being followed in the study, more than 3,300 developed invasive breast cancer. There was no difference in breast cancer risk between the group who had either spontaneous or induced abortions and those who had not had an abortion.

So how about that revival of a discredited hypothesis, Washington Post?

The Danish study, in particular, is as good as a study of this kind can be. All the data came from medical records and everyone knows that the Danes keep excellent records. It also looked at the one question forced-birthers are focused on which is induced abortions.

What is the theory the forced-birthers have in mind when they keep arguing that abortions cause later breast cancer? Probably a theory of divine retribution. The sluts are punished for their sluttery.

But the actual medical hypothesis is something quite different, and would apply equally to all women who have never had children and all women who have had miscarriages. That hypothesis is about the possible protective role that pregnancies before a certain age might have against later breast cancer, and it asks questions about how, exactly, being pregnant might convey such protections.

But those protections are not dependent on just one single pregnancy. Note that women who have had abortions or miscarriages are very likely to also have had completed pregnancies, with all those benefits. After all, many women who have abortions have already had children. Thus, what the hypothesis is really about is the possibility that a woman who has an abortion, whether induced or spontaneous, and no more children during that beneficial time window might have the same higher average risk of breast cancer as women who have no children.

Makes you see the whole thing a bit differently, right?