Scientific Knowledge on Breast Cancer Distorted

NOTE: The following is one of a series of case studies produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists' Scientific Integrity Program between 2004 and 2010 to document the abuses highlighted in our 2004 report, Scientific Integrity in Policy Making.


In a case the New York Times labeled  “an egregious distortion of the evidence,”1 information suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer was posted on the National Cancer Institute website despite objections from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) staff, who noted that substantial scientific study has long refuted the connection. After public outcry on the matter, the information on the website was revised and no longer implies a connection.2

While the correct information is currently available on the website, it is troubling that public pressure was necessary to halt this promotion of scientifically inaccurate information to the public.


1. “Abortion and Breast Cancer,” New York Times, January 6, 2003. For a detailed account of this issue, see K. Malek, “The abortion-breast cancer link: how politics trumped science and informed consent,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Summer 2003. Online at www.abortionno.org/pdf/breastcancer.pdf.
2. “Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop,” National Cancer Institute, March 2003. Online at www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ere-workshop-report.

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