MONDAY, June 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Lower pregnancy rates and reduced breast-feeding among black women may mean they will soon face an increased risk of breast cancer compared to white women, says a study in the June 7 online issue of Cancer.
University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine researchers compared the effects of live births and breast-feeding on the risk of breast cancer in white and black women aged 35 to 64 in the United States.
The study found live births and breast-feeding lowered the risk of breast cancer in both white and black women. Among women aged 35 to 49, the risk reduction of breast cancer per live birth was 13 percent for white women and 10 percent for black women. Among women aged 50 to 64, that breast cancer risk reduction was 10 percent for white women and 6 percent for black women.
The study also found the risk of breast cancer decreased the longer a woman breast-fed. This risk reduction applied only to younger women and was most pronounced in the five years after pregnancy.
The researchers identified a potentially alarming trend. They found that young black women are getting pregnant less than they did in the past and breast-feeding less often and for shorter duration than white women.
If this trend continues, "then this could result in a more rapid increase in breast cancer rates in this group than in whites," the study authors write.
The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.