Breastfeeding Lowers Breast Cancer Deaths

Study finds that both breast cancer recurrence and mortality rates drop
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2015 8:10 AM CDT
Breastfeeding Lowers Breast Cancer Deaths
A woman breastfeeds one son while talking to another son in Honolulu on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.   (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

It appears that women who breastfeed are imparting health benefits not just to their children but to themselves as well. So suggests a new study out this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute involving 1,636 women with breast cancer; those who breastfed their babies were 30% less likely to have the cancer recur and 28% less likely to die from it than those who had never breastfed. The research builds on previous findings that breastfeeding reduces a woman's overall chance of getting breast cancer in the first place.

"If a woman breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of developing breast cancer by about 5% to 10%, although other factors come into play," such as how many children she's had, study leader Marilyn Kwan at Kaiser Permanente tells HealthDay News. "We think this is one of the first [studies] to examine the role of breastfeeding and breast cancer outcomes—prognosis and survival." Of note: while any duration of breastfeeding improved prognosis and survival to some degree, doing so for less than six months was less protective. Kwan adds to the chorus of researchers who postulate that breastfeeding helps ductal cells fully mature and thus better resist cancer. (When it comes to getting breast cancer in the first place, the numbers are even more convincing.)

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