Breast-Feeding Linked to Decreased Breast Cancer Risk

But association is only significant in women with a first-degree family history of breast cancer

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Among women with a first-degree family history of breast cancer, breast-feeding is associated with a significantly decreased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, according to a study published in the Aug. 10/24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Alison M. Stuebe, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied 60,075 parous women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II from 1997 to 2005, including 608 subjects who developed premenopausal breast cancer during follow-up.

Overall, the researchers found that breast-feeding was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer (hazard ratio, 0.75). However, they found that the association was restricted to women with a first-degree family history of breast cancer. In this group, women who breast-fed had a significantly lower risk compared to those who did not breast-feed (hazard ratio, 0.41).

"The observed 59 percent reduction in risk compares favorably with hormonal treatments such as tamoxifen for women at high risk for breast cancer," the authors conclude. "Moreover, breast-feeding is associated with multiple other health benefits for both mother and child. These data suggest that women with a family history of breast cancer should be strongly encouraged to breast-feed."

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Updated on August 12, 2009

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