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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Breastfeeding may lower breast cancer risk, study revealed

Breastfeeding may lower breast cancer risk, study revealed

A new study published online April 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has revealed that women who breast-feed their babies and later develop breast cancer are less likely to have the cancer return or to die from it than women who do not breast-feed.

The study focused on the medical histories of 1,636 women with breast cancer. Researchers found that women who had breastfed had 30 percent less of a chance of the cancer recurring with effective treatment. They also were less likely to develop aggressive types of tumors than those who did had not breastfed, as reported by SF Gate.

Lead author of the study and research scientist with Kaiser Permanente Division of Research Marilyn L. Kwan said that this study is the first “we're aware of” that focuses on the “role of breastfeeding history in cancer recurrence, and by tumor subtype.”

Researchers discovered that women diagnosed with the breast cancer subtype luminal A received benefits of breastfeeding, while there were no significant associations with other subtypes. Study leader Kwan said that women who breastfeed are more likely to get the less-aggressive luminal A subtype of breast cancer.

Previous research has found that breast-feeding is linked with a lower risk of developing breast cancer in the first place, the researchers said.

"If a woman breast-feeds, she reduces her risk of developing breast cancer by about 5 percent to 10 percent, although other factors come into play," Kwan said, such as the number of children she has had. "We think this is one of the first [studies] to examine the role of breast-feeding and breast cancer outcomes -- prognosis and survival," she added.

"Overall, our study confirms that breast-feeding is not only good for the baby, but has potential health benefits for the mom," Kwan said.

Her team found that breast-feeding's protective effect in lowering the chances of recurrence or death from breast cancer was strongest against the most commonly diagnosed breast cancers.

The study builds on previous evidence about the link between breast-feeding and breast cancer, said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of Women's Cancer Programs and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at City of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif.

The message that's reinforced in the new research, Mortimer explained, is that ''women who breast-feed get less aggressive breast cancer." While that has been known, the new study adds detailed findings about tumor types, she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breast-feeding for about six months, followed by continued breast-feeding as foods are introduced, for up to a year or longer. Breast-feeding helps protect babies from diseases such as diabetes, from infection and from becoming overweight. Mothers who breast-feed have a lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, according to the AAP.

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