Ward Off Breast Cancer with Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding reduced breast cancer risk among women with multiple children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Breastfeeding your child can do more than provide your child better immunity and great nutrition. It can also reduce your risk of breast cancer.

A recent unpublished study found a slightly higher risk of one type of breast cancer among women who did not breastfeed.

The research was presented at a conference with preliminary findings and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Breastfeed your babies."

The study, led by Meghan Work, MPH, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, looked at study data from three sites in the Breast Cancer Family Registry.

The researchers looked at the types of cancer among 4,011 women with breast cancer and compared them to 2,997 women without cancer who had similar demographics.

The researchers specifically looked at whether women in both groups breastfed and/or used birth control pills and how many children the women had.

They found that taking birth control pills any time after 1975 did not influence women's risk of developing breast cancer.

However, women with multiple children did have a slightly higher risk of developing a certain kind of breast cancer if they did not breastfeed their children.

Women who had three or more children and who did not breastfeed their children were about 1.5 times more likely to develop estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-negative (ER/PR) breast cancer compared to women who did breastfeed.

The 50 percent higher risk of ER/PR-negative breast cancer linked to breastfeeding in this study matches up with past research which found breastfeeding lowered women's risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer.

Triple-negative breast cancer includes ER/PR-negative breast cancer, which tends to be more difficult to successfully treat and can occur among younger women.

The findings were reported on October 18 at the 11th Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Information on disclosures was unavailable.

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Review Date: 
October 23, 2012
Last Updated:
October 24, 2012