To the Editor:
In response to “Abortion, Pill Increases Risk, Potsdam Resident Claims,” Chris LaRose of Potsdam is familiar to readers of this letter page for all things anti-abortion. The letter begs a response, as it goes beyond mere voicing of opinion and ventures into the realm of medical and scientific misinformation.
The reason “we never hear about” what is claimed to be “two major causes of breast cancer” is because abortion and birth control pills are not major causes of breast cancer. Abortion is not a cause at all, while birth control pills have shown a slight increase in risk while taking them, which fades upon cessation of the drug back to normal within a few years. (American Cancer Society).
The theorized abortion-breast cancer link, known as the “ABC Link” has been through the scientific wringer and it does not pass muster. The attention given to studying this potential cause and effect correlation is impressive. Most scientific propositions turn out to be false and the “ABC Link” is no exception. It continues to be pushed by decidedly political forces that ignore basic concepts of scientific methodology and critique, including control for biasing factors and the findings of experiment replication. (tbam.com).
The risk statistics presented by LaRose from Dr. Kahlenborn’s book are dubious for many reasons. Since the ABC Link has been shown to not exist, those risk statistics are necessarily false. (tbam.com)/ Researching some of the other statistics cited related to hormonal contraception, one finds found some serious misrepresentations in both the degree of risk and the study group analyses on which they are based. Some findings are considered “significant” by certain researchers, but are not considered so by others. There is a natural bias to view one’s own research findings as compelling (and to report them as such) when even the majority of peers do not.
There are multiple risk factors for breast cancer and it is important to take them seriously, but also to evaluate them appropriately. It’s important to understand some simple principles when confronting certain scary sounding statistics. For instance, if one has a tiny risk for a cancer to begin with, then doubling or even tripling that risk is still a tiny risk. Risk factors do not stand by themselves. They are part of an equation that includes an analysis of the benefits of the agent in question.
The protective effects of oral contraceptives against ovarian and endometrial cancer is never mentioned by those who spread political propaganda in issues of women’s reproductive autonomy. Consider the motivations of those that selectively represent only scientific findings that suit their political agenda when evaluating the veracity of scary claims about risk factors for cancer.