Participants at the national pro-life conference heard about the progress being made on the abortion-breast cancer front.

Worldwide, efforts to find a cure for breast cancer intensify even as the pressure to expand access to abortion escalates, despite the fact the abortion-breast cancer connection becomes ever clearer.

Dr. Clem Persaud, a retired professor of medical microbiology and biotechnology, told the conference about the discovery of a previously unsuspected element in the disease: the stem cell factor.

He explained that estrogen in any form is now known to be a carcinogen. Exposure to estrogen, which happens through some medications as well as naturally during menstrual cycles and pregnancy, causes breast cells to proliferate and become cancer-susceptible. Toward the end of a pregnancy, those cells change and become cancer resistant.

But if abortion occurs prior to that change, the newly produced cells, still cancer-susceptible, remain in the breast. They do not decline or resorb. With each abortion-interrupted pregnancy, the total number of unchanged cancer-susceptible breast cells increases. The situation is more marked in very young women whose breasts are still maturing.

Persaud reported that in a human study, every participant who had a family history of breast cancer, and also had an abortion by age 18, eventually developed the disease.

In a lab experiment, pregnant rats were given a carcinogen. Some then underwent an induced abortion; 78 per cent developed breast cancer. The others were permitted a full-term pregnancy; their cancer rate was zero. British researcher Patrick Carroll has just published a European study showing that out of seven factors related to the development of breast cancer, abortion is the best predictor.

Persaud further reported that the recurrence of breast cancer in one-third of treated patients is now thought to be the work of stem cells recently discovered in breast tumors.

The new hypothesis is that although radiation kills the tumor, the cancer stem cells within the breast remain intact and create new tumors by acting as feeders for new cancer cells. The existence of many cancer-susceptible cells in the breast can tip the scales in favour of recurrence.

Persaud is an adviser to the Institute of Cellular Medicine, a clinic that uses ethically obtained stem cells for therapy. He has lectured widely on cloning and embryo-research legislation and appeared before government committees and panels. He urged listeners to talk or write to politicians and to pressure the Canadian Cancer Society to include abortion in its lists of breast cancer risk factors, as at least a possible factor.

“Why aren’t the women’s groups spreading this important information?” wondered conference chair Elizabeth Crouchman of Saint John. One way to educate them might be to promote Breast Cancer Risks and Prevention, an excellent, eminently understandable 30-page reference booklet that clearly explains the abortion-stem cell-breast cancer connection and should be in the hands of all women.

Written by breast surgeon Angela Lanfranchi and researcher Joel Brind, it is published by the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute in New York.