Women Who Breastfed Less Likely To Develop Breast Cancer, Researchers Suggest


Women who breast fed reported later development of breast cancer and generally were less likely to even have or die from it than those who hadn’t breast fed, according to new research.

"We found in this study of over 1,600 women with breast cancer that those who previously breast-fed had a 30 percent overall decreased risk of their breast cancer recurring," said study leader Marilyn Kwan, a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente division of research in Oakland, Calif. "We also found those who previously breast-fed had a 28 percent reduced risk of dying from their breast cancer."

According to Kwan, women who breast feed are about 5 to 10 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. However, other factors also come into play, like the number of children a woman has birthed.

"We think this is one of the first [studies] to examine the role of breast-feeding and breast cancer outcomes -- prognosis and survival," Kwan said. "Overall, our study confirms that breast-feeding is not only good for the baby, but has potential health benefits for the mom."

Kwan’s team found that breastfeeding was most effective in preventing the most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer. However, the research does not point to a cause and effect relationship. For example, the length of breast feeding led to different results. Those who breast fed for more than six months had a higher chance of not having cancer than women who breast fed for less than six months.

Kwan believes that breast feeding could be protective because it lowers the accumulated exposure to hormones that help some cancers grow. It also increases the maturation of ductal cells in the breast, perhaps making them more resistant to cancer.

The study was published in April in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Source: Health Day


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