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Complainant Name:
Mr Patrick Carroll

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Guardian


Mr Patrick Carroll of Pension and Population Research Institute (PAPRI) complained that a comment piece about breast cancer which referred to a paper in a medical journal he had written (Carroll P. The Breast Cancer Epidemic: Modeling and Forecasts Based on Abortion and Other Risk Factors. JPANDS Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Vol 12 Fall 2007 pp72-78 ( was inaccurate and misleading.


The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant:

When Libby Brooks dismisses my research findings as relatively unimportant and junk science (British womens right to choose is under covert attack, October 17) clearly she has not investigated the subject very carefully.

The scale of the modern breast cancer epidemic for which there is no official explanation is considerable. In England & Wales we are continuing to observe further increases in incidence year on year. Thus in 2004 the number of new malignant female breast cancers diagnosed increased to 39,229 from 38,881 in 2003. Nor is there an official explanation for the remarkable British social gradient of breast cancer, whereby upper class women have the higher incidence and higher mortality.

If the epidemic had been anticipated we could have had in place better facilities to treat women diagnosed without delay. A model that predicts breast cancer rates enables such planning. It is also useful to calculate insurance premiums where female breast cancer is a component risk in mortality or morbidity.

The high correlation between cumulated abortion rates and breast cancer rates over the same birth cohorts of women suggests that abortion, rather than the other known risk factors, is the best predictor. Brooks says there is no data to suggest the increase in abortion and breast cancer is among the same women. Mine is not a linked study but modelling designed to forecast cancer trends. Biological studies, however, have shown that abortion, in a first pregnancy, leaves breast cells in a state of interrupted hormonal development more susceptible to cancer. The known preference for abortion when pregnant on the part of upper class and upwardly mobile young women could also help to explain the steep social gradient of British breast cancer.

Report: 76

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