Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Statement to the Press
Population Research Institute Conference
Santa Clara, California
April 5, 2002
Although I observed in my own practice in the early 1990s an inordinate
number of 30 year olds with breast cancer who had no family history, but had
abortions as teenagers, it wasnít until 1999 that I informed my patients of
this risk. That was when a Harvard professor in charge of risk assessment
at a well known Boston clinic told me she knew abortion was a risk factor
for breast cancer and considered it in the evaluation of her patients.
Although she chose not to publicly speak about this issue, she encouraged me
to do so.
I was reluctant at first to follow her suggestion. I depend upon referrals
from obstetrician-gynecologists, some of whom do abortions, and I was
worried they would stop sending me patients when they heard me give lectures
on the abortion-breast cancer link. I lecture on the subject because it is
unjust to withhold pertinent medical information from patients that is so
well documented in the literature for over 20 years and that is in my
It amounts to child abuse to take a teenager in a crisis pregnancy for an
abortion. At best, it will give her a 30% risk of breast cancer in her
lifetime. At worst, if she also has a family history of breast cancer, it
will nearly guarantee this. As a mother, I need to be informed of this to
protect my daughter. Medical professionals have an unfortunate history of
continuing to harm women if it means admitting that they have injured or
killed them with their treatments.
This is best illustrated through the well-known story of Ignaz Semmelweis,
MD. He was an obstetrician-gynecologist in the 1840s who proved that hand
washing would reduce mortality rates from childbed fever from 30% to 2% on
maternity wards. His reward for this was ridicule from his professors and
loss of his hospital appointments. Women continued to die needlessly for
another 30 years until the germ theory proved Semmelweiss was correct. It
must have been very embarrassing for a lowly resident to have told the
greatest medical professors of his time they were responsible for many
We are in the same situation now. There is overwhelming and convincing
evidence that abortion and breast cancer are linked, along with a well
described biologic mechanism. Twenty-eight out of 37 studies have been
published and women still donít know. Itís not only embarrassment and
denial that cause doctors to ignore this data now. It is also the fear of
malpractice. How can an abortionist not be held liable for increasing a
womanís risk of breast cancer and not tell her?
It is unfortunate, but it has become my belief that it will be lawyers who
will force the medical community to address this issue.