Abortion, Miscarriage Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk

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Abortion, Miscarriage and Breast Cancer Risk

Neither induced abortion nor spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) appears to be associated with breast cancer risk in premenopausal women, according to a report in the April 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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Women younger than age 35 who carry a pregnancy to term appear to have a reduced lifetime risk of breast cancer, according to background information in the article. Pregnancy may accelerate breast cell differentiation, the process by which cells take on specialized roles. "An incomplete pregnancy may not result in sufficient differentiation to counter the high levels of pregnancy hormones that may foster proliferation," the rapid growth and division typical of cancer cells, the authors write. "However, these biological mechanisms are uncertain, and a prematurely terminated pregnancy may not affect breast cancer risk at all."

Karin B. Michels, Sc.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Brigham and Women

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