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Non-smoking breast-feeding may give cancer protection

Thursday August 15th, 2013

Breastfeeding for more than six months may safeguard non-smoking mothers against breast cancer, a new report from Spain has suggested.

However, the same protection is not afforded to breastfeeding mothers who do smoke.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, Dr Emilio González-Jiménez, of the University of Granada, said the findings bolster the list of benefits of breastfeeding for women and their babies.

To look at the relationship between breast cancer and certain aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding, Dr González-Jiménez and his colleagues analysed the medical records of 504 female patients, all of whom were aged between 19 and 91 years and had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from 2004 to 2009 at the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada.

The team looked at age of diagnosis, how long the women breastfed, family history of cancer, obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits, and revealed that women who underwent childbirth and who breastfed were diagnosed with breast cancer at a later age, regardless of the patients’ family history of cancer.

Non-smokers who breastfed for longer than six months tended to be diagnosed with breast cancer an average of 10 years later than non-smokers who breastfed for a shorter period.

Smokers who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age obtained no significant benefit from a longer period of breastfeeding.

“The results suggest that for non-smokers, breastfeeding for more than six months not only provides children with numerous health benefits, but it also may protect mothers from breast cancer,” said Dr González-Jiménez.

González-Jiménez E et al. Breastfeeding and the prevention of breast cancer: a retrospective review of clinical histories. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 15 August 2013. Doi: 10.1111/jocn.12368. [abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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