Breastfeeding Reduces Cancer Risk a Third, New Study

Women with a strong history of breast cancer face few options to preventing the disease.  For those who carry the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, giving them an almost 3 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, a double mastectomy is the price some are willing to pay to avoid breast cancer.  However, a new study finds there is good news for women at such a high risk for breast cancer, and that is the impact of breastfeeding for more than a year.

New research sheds light on women at a high risk for breast cancer and the impact of breastfeeding for at least a year.

The study conducted by the Women's Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, looked at almost 6,000 women with both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  The study found breastfeeding had no impact on the cancer risk of women with the BRCA2 gene, suggesting the genes act differently in causing cancer.  The study did find cancer sufferers had breastfed for an average of two months less than those without cancer.  Researchers calculated breastfeeding for one year reduced the risk of breast cancer by 32 percent for women with the BRCA1 gene.   Additionally, if these women breastfed for two years, according to calculations, researchers concluded their risk is cut in half. 

Cheryl Coleman, RN, Certified Lactation Consultant at the Peggy V Helmerich Women’s Health Center, continues to educate new mothers daily on the importance of breast feeding.  The findings of this study provide further evidence that breastfeeding supports breast health for new moms in addition to their overall health.  Coleman explains, “Other documented long term health benefits of cumulative breastfeeding time include decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

If you have a question about breastfeeding, please contact our MilkLine at 918.579.8018 for phone or in-person consultations.