Friday, August 14, 2009

Breastfeeding Can Cut Risk for Breast Cancer

While the decision to breastfeed your baby is a personal one, there is new evidence that may tip the scales in favor of breast over bottle. Not only is breastfeeding best for your infant, if you have a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding can cut the risk for breast cancer before menopause in half.

In a long-term study of approximately 60,000 women, researchers found that women that had a close family history of breast cancer had a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer themselves before menopause if they breastfed their infants, when compared to the women who did not breastfeed. The lead researcher of the study, Alison Stuebe from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, stated that breastfeeding is good for both the mother and for their infant.

The findings of this study stem from data on 60,075 nurses who had given birth and also participated in the long running Nurses’ Health Study between the years 1997 and 2005. Stuebe and her associates reported that by the end of June 2005, 608 women, which is approximately 1 percent, had developed breast cancer when they were at the average age of 48. They also reported that the women who had a mother, sister, or other close relative that had breast cancer had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease if they had ever breastfed than if thy had not.

The researchers also noted that amount of the risk reduction “compared favorably” to that seen by women who were at a very high risk for developing breast cancer who take the hormone therapy tamoxifen to help prevent breast cancer. There also seemed to be no association between breastfeeding and breast cancer in the women who did not have a family history of the disease.

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