"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!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine