Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 75–82 | Cite as

Abortion and breast cancer risk in seven countries

  • Karin B. Michels
  • Chung-cheng Hsieh
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
  • Walter C. Willett
Research Papers


Epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent in suggesting an association between abortion and breast cancer risk. Whether the protection provided by a full-term pregnancy also results from a short-term pregnancy or whether a prematurely terminated pregnancy could increase the risk of breast cancer is unclear. Data from a large, international collaborative study were used to evaluate the association between abortions, whether spontaneous or induced, and breast cancer risk. The data from seven countries included 3,958 breast cancer cases and 11,538 hospital controls with information on abortion history obtained through interviews. Compared with nulliparous women with no abortion (baseline), the odds ratios (OR) and 95 percent confidence intervals (CI) were: for nulliparous women with a history of prior abortion, 0,86 (CI=0.68–1.08); for parous women with no history of abortion, 0.63 (CI=0.57–0.69); for parous women with abortion before first birth, 0.82 (CI=0.69–0.97); and, for parous women with abortion only after first birth, 0.70 (CI=0.63–0.79). When restricting analysis to parous women, those with a history of abortion exhibited an elevated OR suggesting a 29 percent risk increase if the incomplete pregnancy occurred before first birth (CI=1.16–1.36) and an 11 percent risk increase for abortion only after first birth (CI=1.02–1.20) compared with women without such history. The associations observed were stronger among the youngest women. These results do not support a large overall association between abortion and breast cancer risk.

Key words

Abortion breast cancer international comparison miscarriage pregnancy 


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Copyright information

© Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin B. Michels
  • Chung-cheng Hsieh
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
  • Walter C. Willett

There are no affiliations available

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