Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer
If you have already had breast cancer, can you still breastfeed your new baby? This depends on what type of treatment you had done. Women who have had a double mastectomy can no longer breastfeed. Those who just had surgery on one breast or went through chemotherapy can sometimes use the unaffected breast to feed their child. Formula supplementing or a breast milk donor may be necessary depending on your situation. Talk to your doctor if you have had breast cancer and are thinking about breastfeeding.
United Kingdom Breastfeeding Rates
I could highlight many different regions in the world, but I am frequently contacted by moms in the United Kingdom about how poor the lactation support is there. I thought it was interesting to look at these rates.
- In the United Kingdom, 81% of women begin breastfeeding.
- By six months, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is 1%
- The rate of any breastfeeding in the UK at six months is 34%
- The proportion of infants receiving breast milk has remained about the same through the COVID-19 pandemic
Research Table: Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer Risk
This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, its important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer.
Findings from large pooled analyses and meta-analyses that combined data from many studies show women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who dont breastfeed .
Two meta-analyses found breastfeeding reduced the risk of both hormone receptor-positive and hormone receptor-negative breast cancers .
Study selection criteria: Large pooled and meta-analyses.
Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk.
Relative Risk of Breast Cancer in Women who Breastfed Compared to Women who Did NotRR
* For 1 year of breastfeeding
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Things You Should Know About Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer
– October 13, 2020
Nearly one in eight women will develop some form of breast cancer within their lifetime. Those who are breastfeeding or pumping may find that they are more aware of their breast health than they are at any other point in their life, due to the rapid changes that occur in the breasts while lactating.
Although you may know that breastfeeding or pumping can have protective health benefits for both mother and baby, there are other important facts to be aware of related to breastfeeding and breast cancer. Here, we tackle some of the most commonly asked questions on the topic.
Can breastfeeding lower my risk of breast cancer?There are a variety of risk factors for the development of breast cancer, many of which a woman cannot control. When it comes to reproductive risk factors, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce a womans risk, said Dr. Susan Hoover, a surgical oncologist in the Breast Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.
One very large study showed a 4.3% reduction in relative risk of breast cancer development for every 12 months a woman breastfeeds, said Hoover. Another large review demonstrated a 14% lower risk in women who had breastfed, compared to those who never breastfed.
Hoover adds that just like with breast cancer, the longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk becomes.
Can I breastfeed during cancer treatment?Many therapies used to treat breast cancer can be passed on to the nursing baby through breastmilk.
Breastfeeding For More Than Six Months Is Beneficial
According to the World Health Organization and American Institute for Cancer Research, a woman should breastfeed for at least six months to get the maximum health perks. Breastfeeding provides all the energy and required nutrients to the baby during development and helps them to stay healthy.
The research found that breastfeeding is beneficial for a childs health and more protective against breast cancer, which can develop during the time of pregnancy or later. Breastfeeding that last for 12 months can lower the risk of developing breast cancer by 4.3% compared to mothers who do not.
Now you have an idea about how much breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast cancer. Lets find out more facts about breastfeeding and breast cancer.
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Breast Cancer Can Develop At The Time Of Breastfeeding
Breast cancer can develop at any time in a womans life, including while breastfeeding or pumping. Since women are more prone to breast changes during breastfeeding, they may have potential warning signs of cancer. The nursing mothers will feel lumps in their breasts due to milk production, which can block milk ducts. If these lumps do not get smaller or disappear after a week, a mother should consult a doctor.
Good News About Breast Cancer Trends
In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Medically Reviewed on April 15, 2020
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Diet And Cancer Report 2018
In 2018, we produced the Diet and Cancer Report, the third in our series of major reports looking at the many ways in which our diets, and how active we are, affect our cancer risk. You can find out much more about lactation and the risk of cancer by . Please note, however, that this webpage may have been updated since the report was published.
Breastfeeding May Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that pregnancy and delivery may reduce the risk of breast cancer developing, butsome research suggests breastfeeding may reduce the risk as well. This may be linked to a reduction in exposure toovarian hormones while pregnant and nursing due to fewer menstrual cycles. Additionally, pregnancy and nursing change breast cells since these cells have already differentiated to produce milk, some researchers speculate they might be less likely to transform into cancer cells. Another possiblereason is that the breast tissue you shed during lactation, particularly when you finish lactating, may result in the elimination of potentially damaged cells.
While breast cancer isnt preventable, if you know the risk factors, you can make positive changes and get the recommended screenings early detection really can make a difference. If you have any concerns about your health, be sure to reach out to your doctor or other health care providers.
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What If You Cant Breastfeed
Don’t stress about it. “I don’t want to send the message that you’ll get breast cancer if you don’t breastfeed, and you’ll never get it if you do,” explains Dr. Stuebe. “Neither of those things is true.”
Don’t forget that perhaps the single most effective way to help cut your cancer risk is through healthy lifestyle habits within your control. A 2008 report published by the National Institutes of Health stated a simple fact that should be repeated: “Only 510 percent of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 9095 percent have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.” The lifestyle factors they referenced? Things like smoking cigarettes, a diet high in fried food and red meat, drinking alcohol to excess, and lack of physical activity. That means, breastfeeding isn’t the only way to reduce your risk of breast cancer: exercise and healthy-eating help, too.
The bottom line? Breastfeed if you can, Mama, but don’t worry too much if you can’t.
Breastfeeding For Cancer Prevention
Erica H. Anstey, PhD, MA, CLCCDCs Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and ObesityGinny Kincaid, MPHCDCs Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Did you know that breastfeeding can lower a mothers risk for some cancers?
We are going to talk about the connection between breastfeeding and cancer prevention in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration the first week of August that recognizes global action to support women in their efforts to breastfeed. This week celebrates breastfeeding as an investment in health.
Most people know there are many benefits to breastfeeding. Weve probably all heard that its the best source of nutrition for most babies and provides many health benefits for infants. The health benefits for women who breastfeed, however, are less commonly known. In addition to lowering a mothers risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, breastfeeding can also lower a mothers risk of breast and ovarian cancers. A recent study found that only about 1 in 4 people think that a woman is less likely to develop breast cancer later in life if she breastfeeds. Its important to know that breastfeeding helps not only the babys health but also the mothers health too!
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Can You Breastfeed With Cancer Frequently Asked Questions
If Ive been in treatment during pregnancy, how long do I need to let that get out of my system before breastfeeding?
This depends on the type of treatment.
If I want to breastfeed, does that mean I have to postpone treatment?
Though breastfeeding is being shown to be more and more important, that doesnt mean that it is worth jeopardizing your life and wellbeing. Look into safe therapies, formulas, and even into donated breast milk.
If I have a unilateral lumpectomy or mastectomy, is breastfeeding with only one breast healthy/okay?
Typically, yes! It is safe and okay. There are some tips to help make it more comfortable. Usually, lumpectomies require radiation therapy afterward, and so if the plan is to breastfeed, a mastectomy may be suggested if you are not interested in breast-preserving surgery.
Which cancer treatments can show up in my breastmilk and are not safe for my baby?
Quite a few can be present in breastmilk, which presents a concern for what your baby is ingesting. The information below should not be taken as medical advice but is meant to help guide your conversations with your doctor.
Here is a partial list of targeted therapy drugs that are not safe to take while breastfeeding :
Here is a partial list of hormone therapy drugs that are not safe to take while breastfeeding :
Will cancer treatments reduce the amount of milk I produce?
This is very possible. Again, it depends on quite a number of factors.
1. American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer Treatment
Breastfeeding Linked To Lower Breast Cancer Risk
The researchers analyzed data from 5,554 women, aged 15-49, who participated in the 20152017 National Survey for Family Growth. They found that:
- Women born in the U.S. were less likely than those born outside the country to know that breastfeeding decreases a womans breast cancer risk.
- Awareness of the maternal health benefits of breastfeeding was lowest among women who were yet to give birth, those who were less educated and Hispanic women born in the U.S.
- Women who were aware that breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk were more likely to have breastfed as recommended by the CDC.
Hundreds of American families could avoid the pain and suffering caused by breast cancer if more mothers got the support they needed to breastfeed, said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, professor of medicine at UC Davis Health and senior author on the study. Investing in paid maternity leave and baby-friendly hospitals saves precious health care dollars while improving the lives of both women and children.
The study was published Nov. 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Co-authors are Melanie S. Dove, Renata Abrahão and Laura Kair.
Article: Hoyt-Austin et al. . Awareness that Breastfeeding Reduces Breast Cancer Risk: 20152017 National Survey of Family Growth. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004162
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Breastfeeding And Reduced Risk Of Breast Cancer
Reproductive risk factors associated with breast cancer risk include age of menarche, number of pregnancies, age at first birth, lifetime duration of breastfeeding, age at menopause, and use of menopausal hormone therapy however, research has found that these factors are differentially associated with each subtype.5 Breastfeeding is of particular interest for breast cancer prevention because it is a modifiable risk factor. Breastfeeding not only reduces breast cancer risk but also confers other health benefits to the mother including reduced risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers8 and reduced risk for chronic conditions that are also risk factors for cancer, such as hypertension and diabetes.9,10 Additionally, breastfeeding provides many benefits to the infant, including fewer episodes of diarrhea, ear infections, and lower respiratory infections and a lower risk of sudden infant death, diabetes, asthma, and childhood obesity.11
Breastfeeding For A Longer Period Protects You More Against Breast Cancer
The 2002 report of 47 studies published in the prestigious journal, The Lancet, involved 50,302 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and 96,973 women who did not have breast cancer. This massive study of studies concluded that women who breastfed for a longer duration had greater protection against developing breast cancer. The relative risk of breast cancer also decreased by 4.3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding in addition to a decrease of 7·0% for each birth. Notice these amazing p values, which, together with the number of study participants, makes this a very compelling study.
This total of 12 lactating months is cumulative, meaning that it doesnt need to be a single time frame. While breastfeeding for 12 months or more is optimal for baby, the mother gets the same risk reduction benefit if she breastfeeds two children each for 6 months.
Studies also show that suboptimal breastfeeding affects overall maternal morbidity and health care costs.
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Does Breastfeeding Affect Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Breastfeeding an age old debate. With hosts of stories in the media wrangling with the pros and cons of breastfeeding, it can be difficult to remove the fact from the fiction. And while we know that there can be some important benefits for both mum and baby, the breast is best message often leads to those who dont breastfeed feeling unfairly judged.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Infants And Mothers
Breastfeeding is important for overall health. Infants that are breastfed have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, ear and respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and gastrointestinal infections such as diarrhea. Breastfeeding also lowers a mothers risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers.
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Recruitment And Data Collection
This pilot study was approved by the Institutional Review Board. Pregnant women 18 years or older were recruited during a prenatal visit at the OB/GYN practice of an urban hospital. The practice primarily serves underinsured women and some are eligible for Women, Infant and Children assistance. The one-time, anonymous self-report survey captured basic socio-demographic information such as age, race/ethnicity, education level and income, as well as breastfeeding knowledge and intentions. The survey took approximately 20 minutes to complete and participants were compensated with a two-trip pre-paid public transportation card upon completion.
Surgery For High Risk Breast Cancer
Surgery to remove both breasts may be a possible option for women at very high risk. This is known as a bilateral risk reducing mastectomy. Bilateral means both sides and mastectomy means removal of the breast.
It is important you meet a genetic counsellor before you make a decision about having surgery. They will talk about your own personal risks and explain other options, for example screening for high risk women. Your surgeon and specialist nurse will tell you about the surgery. They will also talk about your feelings and any concerns you may have.
During the operation the surgeon removes as much breast tissue as possible but its not possible to remove it all. So, although surgery lowers your risk it does not go away completely.
You may be able to have breast reconstruction during the surgery, or at a later date. This is surgery to make new breasts using tissue from elsewhere in your body or implants.
Choosing to have risk reducing surgery can be a difficult time for you and your family, so it is important to ask questions. Your doctors and nurses will support you when making your decisions and throughout your treatment.
Speak to your doctor if you have family members with breast cancer and you think you might be at risk of developing it.
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Why Does Breastfeeding Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Research has pointed to a few theories, though none have been proven. One is that women who breastfeed have fewer menstrual cycles throughout their lives, and therefore less exposure to estrogen, which has been shown to fuel some types of breast cancers. Another theory: Breastfeeding makes breast cells more resistant to mutations that can cause cancer.
Additionally, there are lifestyle factors that often come into play: Breastfeeding women tend to give up smoking and drinking, eat healthier foods, and in general take care of themselves better. These behaviors are known to reduce your breast cancer risk.
What To Know About Breastfeeding Pumping And Breast Cancer
Here’s what you should know about breastfeeding and breast cancer, including common questions and answers around this important topic.
One in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. And many women find that while theyre breastfeeding or pumping, theyre more aware than ever of their breast health, including how they can reduce the risk of breast cancer and what warning signs to watch for.
While some women already know that breastfeeding and pumping can reduce their risks, there are more breast cancer and breastfeeding facts to be aware of. Were tackling some of the most common questions to keep all breastfeeding moms informed.
Can breastfeeding help reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Yes! Many studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing breast cancer and the longer you breastfeed in your lifetime, the more the risk is reduced.
Can I get breast cancer while Im breastfeeding or pumping?
While its very rare, a small percentage of women do develop breast cancer while they are breastfeeding or using a breast pump. Lactating breasts are often lumpy and bumpy due to normal breast fullness, breast milk production, and the occasional plugged duct. Just be sure to pay attention to how your breasts normally feel and make sure you know the signs of a suspicious lump that needs medical attention.
Can I still get a mammogram while breastfeeding or pumping?
Is it possible to breastfeed or pump after breast cancer?
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