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Delaying childbirth may reduce risk of an aggressive form of breast cancer
Date:12/12/2012

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Previous research has shown, however, that the risk of the most common subtype of breast cancer, ER positive, is decreased among women who've had a full-term pregnancy and have breast-fed. The reason for this, researchers believe, is that the hormones of pregnancy induce certain changes in the cellular structure of the breast that seem to make the tissue less susceptible to this type of cancer.

The study has particular implications for African-American women, who experience disproportionately high rates of triple-negative disease. While the reason for this remains largely unknown, on a population level reproductive characteristics are known to vary by race, and compared to non-Hispanic white women, African-American women are more likely to start having children at a younger age and are less likely to breast-feed, Li said.

"Our observations that delayed childbearing and breast-feeding are protective against triple-negative breast cancer suggest that variations in reproductive histories by race may to some extent explain the higher rates of triple-negative disease in African-American women," Li said.

The study involved more than 1,960 Seattle-area women between the ages of 20 and 44, 1,021 with a history of breast cancer and 941 without. Reproductive histories among women without a history of breast cancer were compared to those of women with ER-positive (781), triple-negative (180) and HER2-overexpressing (60) breast cancer.

"This is an observational study and also one of the first to focus on premenopausal breast cancer and so our results require confirmation and thus should be interpreted with some caution," Li said.


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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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