Can Extensive Breast Feeding Drop Cancer Risk by Half?

During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I'm promoting prevention, rather than detection. One of the many, many benefits of breast feeding is a reduction in breast cancer risk, this is widely known, but can it cut your risk in half if you nurse extensively? This study seems to think so....

Breastfeeding for two or more years reduces a woman's risk of developing breast cancer by 50 percent, according to a study conducted by a Yale researcher among women in China.
The researcher, Tongzhang Zheng, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine, said he conducted the study in China because, unlike Western nations, long term breastfeeding is part of the Chinese culture.
"In Chinese society, it is socially acceptable to breastfeed for a long time," said Zheng. "And it is considered good for the child."
His research, published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed three studies conducted in the early 1980s in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, China. The earlier studies found a more than 50 percent reduction in breast cancer among women who reported a lifetime breastfeeding of more than 109 - Yale News

I find it interesting that this study was done in China because extensive breast feeding is the norm and an acceptable practice. I've heard American studies quote a much lesser percentage, 4% for each year of breast feeding, for example. However, I feel as though this study done in China provides more solid breast feeding factors, whereas extensive breast feeding is not widely practice here in America. This study was done in 2001, but still carries valid weight, in my opinion. shares the same result, but doesn't mention whether or not extensive breast feeding is a factor in cutting breast cancer risk by more than half.

When the researchers looked only at women with a history of breast cancer in their immediate family, however, they found a remarkably strong trend: Women who had breastfed had a 59 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who had not, making their risk comparable to that of women without a family history of the cancer.
Even more convincing, the article points out that the findings show that breast feeding reduces breast cancer risk just as effectively as Tamoxifen, a drug typically prescribed to women with a history of familial cancer. 

Stuebe noted, however, that if the study's findings hold up, breastfeeding may reduce cancer risk as effectively as the drug Tamoxifen, which reduces estrogen activity in the body and is often prescribed to women with a family history of cancer.

Fifty-nine percent is an awe inspiring jaw-dropper.Once again, I'm confused as to why breast feeding bears no mention during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Could it be the makers of Tamoxifen and those who stand to gain monetarily by expensive detection methods could lose out if women simply breast fed? It's hard for me to see any other way than the way it appears! All in all, breast feeding is certainly deserves recognition, if not a place amongst all of the drugs and mammograms we, as women, are encouraged to take.

Yale News
Breast Feeding Significantly Lowers Breast Cancer Risk


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