The findings of a new Kaiser Permanente study now confirms that women suffering from breast cancer who had breast fed earlier have a 30% lower chance of the recurrence of the problem after an effective treatment. They also have less aggressive tumor types as compared to women who had not breastfed their babies.

This establishes beyond doubt that breastfeeding, in addition to being beneficial for babies, is beneficial for mothers as well.

breastfeeding and breast cancer

The findings have been deduced after a complete perusal of the medical histories on 1,636 women diagnosed with breast cancer. They were asked to fill in a questionnaire which also included breastfeeding history.

“This is the first study we’re aware of that examined the role of breastfeeding history in cancer recurrence, and by tumor subtype,” said Marilyn L. Kwan, PhD, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead author of the study.

“We’re not looking at the association of breast-feeding on risk of breast cancer but on the (question): If you breast-fed early on and developed breast cancer, what is your prognosis,” she added.

The researchers also found that women who had breastfed for six months or more fared even better, and were at a 37% reduced risk of recurrence of breast cancer after treatment. Further, mortality rate among those diagnosed with breast cancer was also significantly lower among women who had breastfed.

Those who had breastfed were 28% less likely to die because of breast cancer related issues. The rate being a much higher 39% in case of women who had breastfed for six months or more.

The reasons behind this have not yet been explained though health experts say that this could be probably because breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual cycle. It also fully develops the ductal cells, which help protect the breast.

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