Know breast cancer's reported links

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbons, newspapers and pink-dyed fountains are helpful reminders to become more knowledgeable about this devastating disease. However, why are we not being made aware of reported links between breast cancer and oral contraceptives (OCPs) and induced abortion?

In her official testimony on Senate Bill 690, Angela Lanfranchi -- clinical assistant professor of surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and co-director of the Sanofi-Aventis Breast Care Program, Steeplechase Cancer Center, Somerville, N.J -- reported that in her 25-year career as a breast cancer surgeon, there had been a 40-percent increase in breast cancer, occurring in increasingly younger patients. In her research, she found that the cause of this increase included both oral contraceptives and abortion.

Yet, she stated that the National Cancer Institute has been known to be woefully deficient in warning Americans about cancer risks. For example, the NCI acknowledged a link between cigarettes and lung cancer only after it was reported in 1964 by the U.S. surgeon general, despite a British journal report in 1928.

Dr. Lanfranchi pointed out that the NCI has merely a fact sheet posted on the Web, but has otherwise failed to warn the 75 percent of U.S. women who have taken oral contraceptives, even though there has been data supporting links between OCPs and breast cancer for more than 20 years.

The NCI has made no public warning of abortion's link to breast cancer despite a study published 50 years ago, and 17 other statistically significant studies prior to 1999.

If the NCI refuses to warn us of these cancer risks, the burden is on us to educate ourselves.

Catherine Longtin

North Augusta, S.C.

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