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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 11.13.13
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Abortion and breast cancer
Four weeks ago I started a controversy in this section of Planet JH Weekly that won’t seem to go away. I rebuked an ad, published during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, saying that abortion causes breast cancer. Today, I would like to close this issue once and for all.
In last week’s issue, Ms. Malec, a social studies teacher who has taught both elementary and high school and is the founder and self-appointed president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer and Dr. Lanfranchi, a New Jersey surgeon, questioned my understanding of biology. While I have never claimed to be an expert in breast cancer and am certainly not pro-abortion, I am a retired general surgeon with 30 years of experience as a professor of surgery, physiology, and medical education at three prestigious medical schools. Her website describes her as “open to alternative complementary treatments and believes deeply in ‘mind-body connection’ and the power of prayer.” She seems to have no credible scientific publications in peer-reviewed medical journals. She raises some interesting theoretical issues about how the breast matures and the effect of hormonal changes on the risk of breast cancer but cannot cite a single, credible scientific link between early termination of pregnancy by spontaneous miscarriage or induced abortion and later development of breast cancer.
It is time to set the record straight. The world’s largest study looking specifically for a link between any interruption of pregnancy (miscarriage or induced abortion) studied 1.5 million women over 43 years and concluded that “after adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors….induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk for breast cancer.” A later Harvard University study evaluated 100,000 U.S. women and found “no link between either spontaneous or induced abortions and breast cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Cancer Society, and a group of more than 100 experts in breast disease concluded, after extensive review of the world’s scientific literature, induced or spontaneous abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk. They conclude “the scientific evidence does not support that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.” These organizations represent tens of thousands of physicians who concur with the organization’s findings.
Ms. Malec and Dr. Lanfranchi are free to believe whatever they choose and can remain opposed to the world’s medical experts but, they cannot and should not use their personal biases to attempt to scare women who are facing the most difficult decision of the lives. Abortion may not be the best option but it is sometimes the only option for a woman with a high-risk or unwanted pregnancy.
– Loren Nelson, MD
Don’t diss the wilderness
Jake Nichols’s recent Diss (Planet Jackson Hole, Nov 6-12) of a citizen raising concerns about cycling trail construction in the Palisades Wilderness Study Area was probably supposed to be amusing, but it just made us sad. In the valley that gave rise to the Wilderness Society and proudly claims its heritage as the home of wilderness heroes Olaus and Mardy Murie, it is pathetic to see defense of wilderness labeled a “hissy fit.”
The Palisades is wild enough to host our wildest and rarest wildlife, big enough for hikers and skiers to get lost, remote enough to find solitude for days. For nearly 30 years the Palisades’ magnificent wilderness qualities have been recognized and protected under the Wyoming Wilderness Act. Apparently Mr. Nichols has never ventured deep enough into the Palisades to get out of earshot of the trucks on the Pass. His “Hell no” to Wilderness designation for the Palisades is an uninformed, armchair opinion that sadly ‘disses’ this treasured area. It is likely a minority view.
How are wild areas lost? Nibbling and gnawing by single-minded users under a complicit Forest Service, that’s the recipe. It sure does not help to spread myths, as Mr. Nichols did, by repeating an invented claim of the prevalence of downhill cycling 30 years ago. Alarmingly, he also assumes the authority to tell bikers to “Go ahead and make your trails.”
Edward Abbey wrote, “The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” Evidently one must look elsewhere than the Planet for that.
– Kim Springer, Wilson,
and Debra Patla, Moran