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Breast-Feeding May Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Date:8/10/2009

Study found women with familial history of disease were protected

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Women who breast-feed their babies even for short periods of time may lower their risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer if they have a family history of the disease.

"We saw a 59 percent lower risk of breast cancer among women with a family history who had ever breast-fed," stated Dr. Alison Stuebe, lead author of a study appearing in the Aug. 10/24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. "It is surprising to see this really strong association with a pretty decreased risk."

Stuebe is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, but she conducted the study while affiliated with Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The risk reduction was seen in women who had breast-fed for as short a period as three months.

Numerous other benefits of breast-feeding have been found, not just for babies but for mothers as well.

A study released in April, for instance, found that women in their 60s who had breast-fed for more than 12 months over their lives were nearly 10 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and significantly less likely to develop heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Previous research on the connection between breast cancer and breast-feeding has been limited, although other, less rigorous, studies have also suggested a decrease in risk.

This study looked at about 60,000 women who had given birth at least once and were participating in the Nurses' Health Study II.

The lowering in the risk of breast cancer was seen only in women who had breast-fed and who had a mother or sister who had had the malignancy. And it only applied to premenopausal breast cancer.

The lowering
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