[Information below is from Boston University and has been edited to eliminate misleading comments, such as that triple-negative breast cancer is automatically aggressive.]
African-American women who have had children and never breastfed appear to have an increased risk of developing estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
This is consistent with previous research that showed that breastfeeding reduced TNBC risk in all women.
Researchers combined data on breast cancer cases and controls from four large studies, including the Boston University Black Women’s Health Study. The combined analyses included 3,698 African American women with breast cancer, including 1,252 with the estrogen receptor-negative subtype.
They found that women who had four or more births and had never breastfed any of their babies had a 68 percent higher chance of developing this type of cancer compared with women who had only one birth and had breastfed that baby.
African-American women are more likely die of breast cancer than white women, and are more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative.
Although previous studies have shown that overall risk of breast cancer may be elevated during the first 5 or 10 years after giving birth with a subsequent reduction in risk, this study suggests that the adverse impact on estrogen receptor negative breast cancer persists over time. The biologic mechanisms behind the association, however, are unclear. One hypothesis is that the immune system/inflammatory processes that occur after birth may play a role.
Whatever the cause, breastfeeding looks like one way to reduce risk—not to mention that it is just good for both mom and baby.
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