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The Komen Foundation and its “Race For The Cure” have raised hundreds of millions for breast cancer research. But some of that money may be contributing to what some believe is a major cause of breast cancer. by Jamie Dean

Raleigh—For nearly twenty years the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has been racing for a cure to a disease that is expected to take the lives of 39, 600 women this year alone. Hundreds of thousands of women have died of breast cancer since the Komen Foundation (KF) was founded to raise money for breast cancer research in 1982.

The group has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to reversing this trend, and has raised $240 million for research and education over the last two decades.

KF’s most widely known and most successful fundraising method is a series of 5K races around the country called The Race for the Cure. Over a million people participated in races across the nation last year, with each participant raising money through sponsors. Proceeds from races go to research and education projects, and each local KF chapter awards grants to local organizations that have breast cancer research or awareness programs.

KF gave millions of dollars last year to hundreds of non-profit organizations. But several KF affiliates have awarded grants to at least one organization in recent years that have some wondering if the race for a cure could actually be a race towards death. One of those KF affiliates is right here in North Carolina. And the controversial grant recipient is Planned Parenthood.

The Komen NC Triangle Race for the Cure held its sixth annual 5K in June in Raleigh. Over 15,000 runners and walkers participated on race day and raised over a half million dollars. Local non-profit organizations with breast health programs have applied for grants that will be awarded over the next few months. An advisory committee will decide which groups receive grants. Last year, the NC Triangle Komen affiliate awarded $445,000 in grants to 20 non-profit organizations, including one grant to Planned Parenthood of the Capital and Coast. Several KF affiliates across the country awarded similar grants to Planned Parenthood offices for breast health programs.

And at least one pro-life group is now questioning the ethics of awarding grants to an organization that it says might be contributing to the problem.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer is an international organization dedicated to educating women about abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer. The group points to 28 out of 37 worldwide studies that have independently linked induced abortion with breast cancer. These studies suggest that induced abortions cause biological changes to occur in women’s breasts that make them more susceptible to cancer.

The Coalition has criticized the Komen Foundation for awarding grants to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions. Karen Malec, president of the Coalition said in a recent press release, “We find it appalling that an anti-breast cancer foundation would help fund Planned Parenthood whose sales of abortion ‘services’ contribute significantly to the breast cancer rates in this country.”

Planned Parenthood denied the connection between abortion and breast cancer in an official statement that read, “The possible link between induced abortion and breast cancer is a theory whose principal promoters oppose abortion regardless of its safety. The theory awaits conclusive confirmation by medical researchers.”

While the medical community is certainly not in full agreement on the link, several reputable organizations have found the research compelling enough to acknowledge abortion as at least a risk factor for breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society stated in a fact sheet that abortion “may be associated with increased breast cancer risk.” The National Cancer Institute commissioned a study, conducted by an abortion supporter, that found that, “among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50% higher than other women.”

The Coalition believes these figures demand Planned Parenthood’s recognition, and that PP should provide this information to women before performing or recommending abortions. Malec says, “Planned Parenthood markets itself as a servant of the poor, but it serves low income women about as well as a tobacco company providing research screenings for lung cancer to the poor.”

Despite the well published studies examining this potentially deadly link, the Komen Foundation donated thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood offices across the country last year, and will likely consider grant applications from more PP offices this year.

The Coalition contends that the Komen Foundation is contributing to an increased risk of breast cancer by donating funds to an organization that performs procedures directly linked with breast cancer.

Out of the four NC Komen Foundation affiliates (Triangle, Triad, Charlotte, and Foothills), only the Triangle affiliate awarded a grant to Planned Parenthood. But while the Charlotte affiliate hasn’t awarded a grant to PP, Executive Director Penelope Wilson defends other KF affiliates that have.

Wilson points out Planned Parenthood can only use KF grant money for breast health programs, and contends that PP is the only organization providing breast health education in some communities. Wilson says, “The rumor got started the we [The Komen Foundation] are pro-abortion. We’re not.” But asked about the link between abortion and breast cancer, Wilson says, “I’m not familiar with the studies, but I don’t think they’ve proved that.”

Whether or not the abortion/breast cancer link has been proven to the satisfaction of everyone in the medical community, the Coalition believes that the evidence is sufficient enough to warrant warning women against abortion and the public against supporting the Komen Foundation.