According to a recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women who were breast-fed as infants may have a reduced risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.
Breast cancer is diagnosed in over 200,000 women annually in the US. Due to its prevalence, researchers continue to investigate possible associations between environmental or genetic variables and the development of this disease. While previous studies have indicated that women who breast feed their children have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, the risk of developing cancers among individuals who were breast-fed as infants has not yet been established.
Researchers from England recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate a possible association between cancer incidence and breast-feeding during infancy. This study included nearly 4000 adults who were originally surveyed from 1937–1939. Overall, individuals who were never breast-fed, did not have a reduced risk of all cancers compared to those who were breast-fed as infants. However, data included on meta-analysis showed that rates of breast cancer diagnosed in premenopausal women were approximately 12% lower among women who had been breast-fed as infants.
The researchers concluded that women who were breast-fed in infancy have a reduced risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer. However, rates of postmenopausal breast cancers and other cancers were not reduced among adults who had been breast-fed as infants.
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Reference: Martin R, Middleton N, Gunnell D, Owen C, Smith G. Breast-Feeding and Cancer: The Boyd Orr Cohort and a Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2005; 97: 1446-1457
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