REDDING (CBS / AP) – Republican congressional candidate Doug LaMalfa is backing off a claim that he made that women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer.

The former state legislator made the claim Monday during a debate with Democrat Jim Reed, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday. LaMalfa, who the front-runner for the 1st Congressional District, repeated his views in an interview with TV station KRCR.

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“Research has shown there is that there is that higher level of incidence, there is that risk and so I would want women to be fully informed of all the aspects of it before they would make a decision like that,” he told the station. “I think that shows more care for women then by simply shuffling them off to an abortion mill, and so that’s a very important distinction that needs to be made.”

A link between abortion and breast cancer has been the subject of medical studies but groups such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have concluded that there is no scientific evidence to back such claims.

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The Bee reported LaMalfa’s campaign sent out a statement Tuesday saying he had been misinformed. His consultant said the candidate was relying on information he remembered reading several years ago.

“After last night’s debate, I checked the most recent research on the question of a link between abortion and cancer and found that current research does not support the conclusion that abortion causes cancer,” he said in the statement. “I hope that any woman considering this procedure discusses all the health consequences with her doctor and makes a fully informed decision.”

His comments came after fellow Republican and Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin ignited a furor in August over his comments that women could thwart pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”

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