A small study found that women who were breast fed as infants had a 17% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who weren't breast fed. Earlier research also has suggested that there is a link between breast feeding and a lower risk of breast cancer.
In this study, the researchers found that:
- Being breast fed lowered breast cancer risk in women who had older brothers and sisters. But women who were breast fed and were the first-born child didn't have reduced risk -- the researchers aren't sure why this is.
- Among women who weren't breast fed, breast cancer risk was lower in women whose mothers were older when they gave birth. There was no link between birth order and breast cancer risk in women who weren't breast fed.
Your risk of breast cancer is the result of the combination of many factors. Some of these factors, such as your genes, are with you from the moment you're conceived. Other factors, such as what you eat and the environment you live in as a child, are part of the circumstances and choices of your family. Breast-feeding is an example of this second type of factor.
Other factors, such as the diet and lifestyle choices you make as a teen and adult, are choices you control. You also have control over choices that can affect the future health of your own children. Breast feeding is one of these choices. For most moms and babies, breast-feeding is a better alternative to bottle feeding and offers many health benefits. And one of these benefits may be lower breast cancer risk.
Visit the breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section to learn more about breast cancer risk and steps you and your daughters can take to lower it.