A new study indicates that breastfeeding can reduce the recurrence of breast cancer in women who were previously treated for breast cancer. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.
Breastfeeding has several benefits for both mother and baby. Breast milk is the ideal natural food for the baby in terms of nutritive value, digestibility and providing immunity. The mother-baby bonding develops during breastfeeding.
AdvertisementIt is a well-known fact that women who breastfeed have lesser chances of suffering from breast cancer. The cells of the breast mature during pregnancy and breastfeeding to produce milk for the baby. It has been suggested that these mature cells are more resistant to developing cancer in comparison to the immature cells seen in a woman who has never become pregnant or breastfed. The risk of breast cancer is especially less in women who have breastfed for at least a year. However, it is currently unclear if breastfeeding reduces the risk of recurrence of cancer in women who have already been treated for breast cancer.
Researchers obtained data from 1636 women who had suffered from breast cancer in the past. Details about breastfeeding were obtained from these women through questionnaires.
The researchers found that though some women who had breastfed did develop breast cancer, they more commonly developed a particular type of cancer which is the luminal A subtype of breast cancer. These tumors grow slowly and have better outcomes than some other breast cancers. The researchers also found that breastfeeding especially for a duration of a minimum of 6 months was associated with reduced risk of recurrence of breast cancer as well as the risk for death due to breast cancer. This was especially true for luminal subtype A breast cancers.
The study concludes that women who have breastfed have better prognosis and survival rates given the reduced tumor activity rates.
Kwan M.L., et al. Breastfeeding, PAM50 Tumor Subtype, and Breast Cancer Prognosis and Survival. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2015) 107 (7): djv087;doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv087