Conservapedia:Schlafly, breast cancer and abortion

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In the back alley

Andy Schlafly is convinced that abortion increases your risk of breast cancer. This is not coincidentally also the view of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, for which Andy is General Counsel.

Andy maintains this belief, even when personally confronted by a physician (User:PalMD) who points out that while having children can lower your risk of breast cancer, having an abortion doesn't make you more at risk than merely not becoming pregnant in the first place. In other words, Andy's assertion is just as wrong as declaring that breathing increases your risk of breast cancer.

Below are some exchanges illustrating Andy's single-mindedness on the subject, reproduced from here.

Initial exchange[edit]

Andy:PalMD, I'm not going to allow concealment here of how abortion increases risk of breast cancer. That's not fair to the women who are victims, and it is not truthful either. Your citations to organizations are not scientific and you omit the compelling logic and overwhelming evidence of an increased risk. See the discussion in abortion.

I'm not going to spend hours debating the logic and obvious evidence here. If necessary, this page will be locked and those who seek to deny this information to women (and thereby mislead them) will be blocked. Thank you.

Britinme:Andrew - there is no concealment. However, there is a link to at least three authorities with no financial axe to grind who have looked at the evidence and come to a different conclusion than that reported in the abortion article. Are you going to deny this information to women who might be in quite unnecessary fear over their level of risk? This seems unkind. I will link the article to the abortion article, and then interested parties can go from one to the other and compare the quality of evidence. If the evidence is good enough, it needs no protection, surely? Perhaps you could approach each of the citations in support of assertions here and show where they are flawed.

PalMD:Andy, please call me Pete. Anyway, if you wish to question my credentials and back up your assertions with better citations than I have, then just do it. Add it to the discussion, and lets see if we can squeeze it into the article if it is truly convincing. Dont just lock then ask later. Andy, what if I were to write that mammograms give so much radiation that they are a significant risk factor for cancer. I have no credible sources to back this up, and it takes away from the overall legitimacy of the article. There are many good reasons to halt abortions, but this isnt one of them.

Andy:PalMD, I'm not going to waste hours debating this with you, any more than I would debate whether 2+2=5 with you. The content page is not going to mislead women as abortion supporters have. Go to Wikipedia if you prefer citing liberal organizations rather than disclosing the logic and honest research. Here, we are going to tell women the truth and efforts to interfere with that will result in locking and blocking. This will probably be my last comment here on this and you can have the last word here. But the content page is going to disclose the logic, the honest studies, and the truth about this.

AmesG:Andy, in the interest of fairness you should probably include the studies contrary to your views. As you say, this isn't Wikipedia, you don't censor for PoV. I don't think PalMD would question your legal reasoning - will you question his medical knowledge?

PalMD:Im not sure what "liberal" sources you refer to. The CDC? WHO? NEJM? NIH? Im sorry, Andy, but you do not seem to have respect for either truth or experts. You have an agenda, and are willing to run rough-shod over important facts to get there. Save the abortion debate for where it belongs. Im more with you on that than you think. When you say that your truth is obvious,etc, that usually means you believe it and thats good enough.

Murray:Andy, you're absolutely right that we should be looking at the research, but you seem to not be aware of all of it. I would appreciate it if you would respond to the points at the end of the abortion talk page.

PalMD:Andy, if you can give me an actual NNH (number needed to harm, that is number of women who would have to get an abortion to cause one extra case of breast cancer), or odds ratio, or risk ratio from a good study of abortion and breast cancer, we can cite it and discuss it. If you have the raw data, I can show you how to calculate these. Otherwise, it has no medical bearing. See Essay: On Bias.

Who has a financial horse in this race?[edit]

PalMD:Quote: I'm not going to allow concealment here... Aschlafly, above.

And for full disclosure, I do not perform abortions or in any way profit from them. Should I go on?????? Censor away!!!


Britinme:Goodness me - what was that I said about reports from people with no financial axe to grind?!


MyaR:Awesome! No, Conservapedia doesn't censor. (To be clear -- in reference to Andy's blocking of Pete.)

Andy:Hate to ruin these liberals' fun here, but there's no money in standing up for the truth. I've never earned a dime from the abortion-breast cancer link, and don't expect to either. In contrast, there's over a billion dollars and much political power gained from concealing the harm to women.

I think PalMD is overusing his "MD"User:PalMD/Credentials to conceal the truth from women, and I'm not going to allow that here. I'm concerned about the Essjay issue.

Britinme:If you've never earned a dime from the abortion-breast cancer link, that may well be because on the evidence (and I've read both sides of it) it doesn't look as if it would stand up in court.

MyaR:And I think you're overusing your little bit of power (in a place where most visitors, fortunately, won't fall for it, or did long ago) to provide ideologically based misinformation to women who desperately need good information in order to hold up the shaky foundations of your ego. Which, ultimately, is just sad and tragic. (Oh, and you should have someone proofread those links above -- lots of non-spell checkable typos, like 'and' instead of 'an'.)

Cgday:em.. Essjay was a fraud, PalMD has provided both his real name and contact details - there seems to be no connection between the two. Since PalMD has been kind enough to provide us with details of his medical expertise - could you do the same?

Andy:I don't claim to have special expertise in this area. The Essjay fraud consists of someone who claims expertise beyond what is justified.

Flippin:wow, I've seen people blocked for less. (My comment was removed, again, from a talk page so I am restoring it.)

EdPoor:I hate to cast doubt upon anyone, but Mr. Schlafly's reasoning is correct in this matter. I have other reasons than he has given for doubts but have not voiced these so for. I would find a phone call from Peter's office very convincing at this point.

TimS:Ed, Peter has provided his proof it is on his talk page. I double checked him and his claims about who he is are true.

Cgday:If you are going to slander a man - best to come right out and say it Ed - are you saying his creditionals are fake or not?

Murray:I don't claim to have special expertise in the medical aspect of this, but it's actually a question of statistics. There are some studies that show that women who've had an abortion are at higher risk for breast cancer. However, most studies show that they are not. That's the bottom line. Saying otherwise, when proof has been repeatedly given, is misleading.

Andy:Murray, you're wrong about the studies, but you won't get blocked for being wrong. But someone who pretends to have expertise about something should be blocked when he is posting incorrect statements under the pretense of expertise. We are not going to allow a repeat of anything like the Essjay incident here.User:PalMD/Credentials

Cgday:To be honest, it's the conflict of interest I think the papers are going to be more interested in - I've already seen on another forum, that a english newspaper is interested in this.

Murray:How am I wrong about the studies Andy? You've mentioned that there are 16 that show a significant risk. I've listed (on my talk page) 24 that show there isn't. Perhaps you could clarify?

Flippin:I don't see where Andy has better credentials than anyone else to speak on this issue. Maybe I'm wrong, but he just keeps referring to the "essjay" thing which has nothign to do with this discussion. Can we move on and talk about credentials or forget the whole mess?

Cgday:Getting back to the article - WHICH studies show a link between abortion and breast cancer?

Andy:Read abortion without any preconceived opinions. Logic alone dictates that abortion increases breast cancer risk.

Murray:So it's not about the research then?

Flippin:"logic alone" is not a very good answer. sorry.

Britinme:"logic alone" suggests that the sun goes round the earth - because after all it looks as if we're standing still and the sun goes round us, doesn't it? But evidence suggests otherwise. At least, the kind of evidence that would stand up in court does.

Sterile:Looking here [1]: "Although the increase in risk was relatively low, (emphasis added) the high incidence of both breast cancer and induced abortion suggest a substantial impact of thousands of excess cases per year currently, and a potentially much greater impact in the next century, as the first cohort of women exposed to legal induced abortion continues to age." That's in the abstract. I don't have access to the article. I'm a little suspicous, however. Most studies would give some sort of correlation, and not an "odds ratio", whatever that means. Whoops--that is the article... Hmmm OF course, there's this: [ Judging from the NE Journal of Medicine articles at the bottom of the ref 1, it seems that this is unclear. Hence, it would be intellectually dishonest to include it in the article.

Britinme:Abortion became legal in the UK in 1967 - I'm not sure when in the US (1972?) so women old enough to have abortions then would now be around sixty or older - a time when age-related factors increase the rate anyway. However, it's not as simple as that. For example, among other things the rate of obesity is now much higher than it was forty years ago, and that is an influencing factor.

Breast cancer occurs 100 times more frequently in women than in men... but...[edit]

Dpbsmith:No time to work on this myself right now, but... I know a man who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and he tells me that when it does occur in men it is apt to be very dangerous. He's getting regular radiation therapy now, and things seem to be going OK, but it's a very serious business. And men often miss or ignore the symptoms because they don't know it can occur in men. He says he's on a mission to convince men to perform regular breast self-examination.

Murray:Absolutely correct. Because it's so uncommon in men it doesn't usually get caught until it's fairly advanced, so prognoses are often not as good as they are for women.

Risk factors[edit]

EdPoor:I just got off the phone with PalMD and am now convinced that he is a real human being. I don't think he's a cancer expert (see oncologist).

I'm hoping he'll ease off and allow a few links to sources which contradict his view of the abortion-cancer connection to be inserted into the article, and that he will not try to "own" the article. He merely submitted a few edits; he's not the author.

PalMD:You are correct, I am not an oncologist, and have never claimed to be. I am still, as an internist, the closest thing we have to an expert here. I lecture on these topics regularly. I have no problem at all with injecting the abortion thing in here, however, just like any other info, it must be sourced, and the data should be available for anyone to view.

PalMD:BTW, perhaps an interested, intelligent person could post on the talk page the article links on abortion/breast cancer. I find it a little confusing on the abortion page. That way we could more easily and accurately incorporate it.

Britinme:These are the ones used in the abortion article:

  3. ↑ Id.
  4. ↑ Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., F.A.C.S, "The breast physiology and the epidemiology of the abortion breast cancer link," 12 Imago Hominis, No. 3, 228 (2005) (emphasis added).
  5. ↑ "Probability of breast cancer in American Women," National Cancer Institute (Apr. 15, 2005); K. O'Flaherty, R. Oakley, "Self-checks 'useless' in breast cancer fight," Sunday Tribune (Ireland), at 8 (Oct. 6, 2002).
  6. ↑ R. O'Reilly, "New weapon in war against breast cancer," The Press Association Limited (Dec. 17, 1998); "Portugal-abortion referendum," Associated Press Worldstream (June 27, 1998).
  7. ↑ A. Khan, "The role of fat in breast cancer," The Independent (May 18, 1998).
  8. ↑ N. Abdullaev, "Russians are quickest to marry and divorce," Moscow Times (Dec 8, 2004).
  9. ↑ Information packet, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) World Conference on Breast Cancer (July 1997).
  10. ↑ Joel Brind, "Induced Abortion as an Independent Risk Factor for Breast Cancer: A Critical Review of Recent Studies Based on Prospective Data," J. of Am. Physicians & Surgeons 105 (Winter 2005) [1] (citing Russo J, Russo IH. Susceptibility of the mammary gland to carcinogenesis. 1980;100:497-512).

PalMD:Thank you. As a public service, I will parse each one individually, and add comments under each listing, if you dont mind.

Murray:Unfortunately you seem to have been blocked Peter, but if you do come back here is a list of studies that have found abortion not to be a risk factor:

  1. NEJM 1997, 336, 81-5
  2. British Medical Journal 1989, 299, 1430-2
  3. Cancer Causes & Control 1997, 8, 93-108
  4. Lancet 2004, 363, 1007-16
  5. American Journal of Epidemiology 1988, 127, 981-9
  6. British Journal of Cancer 1982, 45, 327-31
  7. American Journal of Epidemiology 1987, 126, 831-41
  8. International Journal of Cancer 1991, 48, 816-20
  9. European Journal of Cancer 1999, 35, 1361-7
  10. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2005, 59, 283-7
  11. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2003, 12, 209-14
  12. American Journal of Epidemiology 1983, 117, 35-45
  13. Epidemiology 2000, 11, 76-80
  14. International Journal of Cancer 2001, 92, 899-905
  15. Cancer Causes & Control 1997, 8, 841-9
  16. International Journal of Cancer 1996, 65, 401-5
  17. British Journal of Cancer 1990, 62, 122-6
  18. International Journal of Cancer 1993, 215-9
  19. Cancer Causes & Control 1995, 6, 75-82
  20. American Journal of Public Health 1999, 89, 1244-7
  21. British Journal of Cancer 1999, 79, 1923-8
  22. Epidemiology 2000, 11, 177-80
  23. Cancer Causes & Control 2000, 11, 777-81
  24. International Journal of Cancer 1998, 76, 182-8

Andy:Your posting above is false and misleading. The Lancet entry, for example, is not a study at all. I doubt many of the others are either. Virtually all statistically significant studies have shown an increase risked, as does logic. The increased risk was shown before abortion became politically controversial and before the abortion industry became so powerful.

Murray:The Lancet article is indeed a study, though it is regarding ovarian cancer, not breast. My mistake. But you don't understand what statistical significance means. The majority of studies (ie, those in my list) were not statistically significant, meaning they found no effect of abortion on breast cancer. That doesn't mean they don't count.


Andy:I blocked AmesG for a day for making an edit I considered threatening, and for not retracting it or apologizing for it.

When "PalMD" is editing outside his area of expertise, then I suggest he remove his "MD" label (which is not his real user id here anyway). My review of PalMD's past edits show a vast number of unproductive changes, including reverting one of my factual edits within a short period after my making it. I think a review of PalMD's edits does support blocking, but in an abundance of caution I will await his future edits. Any edit that falsely denies that carrying a pregnancy to term is healthier for the mother than having an abortion, particularly if made under the misleading moniker "MD", will likely result in a block of PalMD. Conservapedia is not going to allow the spreading of liberal falsehoods here to promote abortion. Go to Wikipedia if you want that. Thanks.

Murray:Just plainly listing abortion as a risk factor is false because it suggests that a woman who has an abortion is at greater risk than a woman who was never pregnant. That is simply not true, and it is plain in the research.

Andy:Your comparison is badly misleading, and scientific nonsense. A woman who is pregnant is not choosing between an abortion and not being pregnant. She is choosing between an abortion and childbirth, and it is indisputed that choosing abortion is harmful to her health.

Britinme:Please would you define your understanding of 'falsely denies that carrying a pregnancy to term is healthier for the mother than having an abortion'? As far as I can ascertain, the reverse is the truth. According to [2]maternal deaths per 100,000 abortions in the developed world are of the order of 0.2-1.2 per 100,000, whereas in the USA maternal deaths associated with giving birth were 17 per 100,000 (12.2 in the UK) [3] deaths. The conservative view is of opposition to abortion, and conservatives have many reasons to oppose it, but it does this site and your argument no favors if you misrepresent the facts.

Andy:The above data are silly and misleading, even if true. The above risks are far too small to be worth considering, and are orders of magnitude smaller than the risk of breast cancer and premature birth of future children.

Murray:You're missing the point entirely Andy. There's a difference between pregancy decreasing the risk and abortion increasing it. If you phrase it that way well and good, but that's not what you're doing. And you still haven't addressed the issue that the majority of studies find no link between abortion and breast cancer. Too much to hope for I suppose.


Jrssr5:copied from PALMD's talk page

I'm disappointed I was away from the computer last night ... I find it appalling that Andy is attacking Peter's credentials, when Andy himself does not have any in this field. The hyprocisy is astounding. I've also done my own research into this and see nothing of substance that backs up Andy's claims of a link. Unfortunately this is his site and if he wants to spread false information in an effort to vilify abortions even further that is his agenda. I would think someone who is as religious and allegedy educated as him would be able to tell the difference between facts and trash "research". And the whole calling something you disagree with a liberal agenda, liberal facts, etc only discredits him further. Peter you have my full support.

NEJM studies[edit]

Sterile:I'll repeat what I said above.

The New England Journal of Medicine has two studies: [4] and [5]. They contradict each other. Given that the NEJM is the most well known medical journal, I think it can be safely said that there is no concrete conclusion here. I then conclude to mention abortion as a risk factor is highly deceptive, unless details about the contraversy are given. Stating that "there is a contraversy" is really not intellectuall satisfyingy, again, unless details are given. If Conservapedia is going to be a "trusted/fair source," then this must be done; otherwise the credibility of the project is undermined.

Britinme:I would like to know on what basis the Breast Cancer Institute and the National Cancer Society are deemed to be 'politicized' when they state unequivocally that there is no proven link between abortion and breast cancer. As it stands, this article is dishonest in making the claim that a proven link exists. I note that there is no citation in support of this.


PalMD:Well, I'm still keeping my hands off this article, and my edits out. It is obviously so politicized that it is absurd. Breast cancer is one of the most important health problems in this country. Abortion is one of the most important moral discussions in this country. They happen to be medically unrelated. I certainly hope people who read the current article do not rely on it for accurate information on breast cancer. I mean this not just because of the "abortion issue" but also because, as long as it remains politicized, no real medical expert will put their name to it and help keep the article otherwise accurate. And before you accuse me of one of those ridiculous 90/10 violations, check my recent contributions.

See also[edit]

Essay:Where do you fall in the abortion debate?