Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breastfeeding Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women With A Family History Of The Disease

Date:
August 12, 2009
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
According to a new study, women with a family history of breast cancer were 59 percent less likely to develop breast cancer themselves if they breastfed their children.

According to a new study, women with a family history of breast cancer were 59 percent less likely to develop breast cancer themselves if they breastfed their children.

"This is good news for women with a family history of breast cancer," says Alison Stuebe, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and lead author of the study, which is published in the Aug. 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Our results suggest a woman can lower her risk of cancer simply by breastfeeding her children," Stuebe says.

Among women with a mother or sister with breast cancer, the researchers found that those who had breastfed were less than half as likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer as those who had not breastfed. The authors did not find a difference in risk among women without a family history of breast cancer.

For women with a family history, the reduction in risk with breastfeeding was similar to taking an anti-estrogen drug such as Tamoxifen for five years. But unlike Tamoxifen, Stuebe says, "Breastfeeding is good for mothers and for babies."

Stuebe and colleagues reviewed data from the Nurses' Health Study II, a long-term study of more than 100,000 women from 14 states. Stuebe's study followed more than 60,000 who reported at least one pregnancy in 1997, when breastfeeding was assessed in detail, and followed them through 2005 to determine how many developed invasive breast cancer.

How long a woman breastfed seemed to be less important than whether or not she had breastfed, Stuebe says. The reduction in risk was similar whether women breastfed for a lifetime total of three months or for more than three years. Also, there was no significant difference in risk for women who breastfed exclusively versus those who breastfed while supplementing with other foods.

Why breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer is unknown. The authors suspect that when women do not breastfeed, inflammation and engorgement shortly after birth causes changes in breast tissue that may increase risk for breast cancer. Breastfeeding followed by weaning may prevent this inflammation.

When the researchers compared data about women who breastfed and those who did not, there was a 25 percent total reduction in incidence of premenopausal breast cancer. But, Stuebe says, that statistic was accounted for by women without a family history of the disease.

"We did not find an association between breastfeeding and premenopausal breast cancer among women without a family history of breast cancer," Stuebe says. "This could be because there's something about genetically caused breast cancer that's affected by breastfeeding, or it could be because rates of breast cancer were so low in women without a family history that we couldn't see an association in this data set."

Stuebe says the research underscores the public health impact of policies that help mothers successfully breastfeed. In a recent CDC study, more than half of women said they stopped breastfeeding earlier than they wanted to. "Mothers and babies need supportive hospital policies, paid maternity leave, and workplace accommodations so that they can meet their breastfeeding goals," Stuebe says. "Public health begins with breastfeeding."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alison M. Stuebe; Walter C. Willett; Fei Xue; Karin B. Michels. Lactation and Incidence of Premenopausal Breast Cancer: A Longitudinal Study. Arch Intern Med., 2009; 169 (15): 1364-1371 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Breastfeeding Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women With A Family History Of The Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810161858.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2009, August 12). Breastfeeding Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women With A Family History Of The Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810161858.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Breastfeeding Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women With A Family History Of The Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810161858.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins