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Abortion and breast cancer: a case-control record linkage study
  1. M J Goldacre,
  2. L M Kurina,
  3. V Seagroatt,
  4. D Yeates
  1. Unit of Health-Care Epidemiology, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Old Road, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK
  1. Dr Goldacre (michael.goldacre{at}

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There is controversy about whether interruption of pregnancy, particularly if it is induced rather than spontaneous, increases the risk of breast cancer. Individual studies, and reviews summarising them, have given conflicting results.1 2 Recent guidelines from the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ( state that the evidence is inconclusive but that, when only those studies least susceptible to bias are considered, induced abortion does not seem to increase risk.

Most studies of this association have been case-control interview studies. An important and much discussed consideration is whether such studies are inherently subject to reporting bias—that women with breast cancer may be more likely than control women to tell the interviewer if they have had an induced abortion when questioned about their reproductive history.3-5 If there are systematic reporting biases in interview studies, neither pooling of data across studies in meta-analysis nor further similar studies will …

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