"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."
Clinton Colmenares | EurekAlert!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy