Dr. Donnica Discusses Study of Breast-fed Girls and Breast Cancer Risk
Far Hills, NJ (5/12/08): Dr. Donnica Moore, founder and host of DrDonnica.com, returned as a guest expert on "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" (FOX) today to discuss a new study on the possible link between breast-feeding a female child and future breast cancer risk. The interview format study published in the journal Epidemiology (5/08) found that women who were breast-fed as infants had a 17 percent decrease in breast cancer risk compared to those who were not breast fed. Ironically, however, there was no difference in breast cancer risk in first-born children, regardless of whether or not they were breast-fed. "This is a study that raises more questions than it answers," said Dr. Donnica, "but it definitely puts one more check mark in the column of the benefits of breast feeding."
Led by Dr. Hazel Nichols of the University of Wisconsin, the study or 3,976 women in Wisconsin was published this week in the journal Epidemiology (5/08). This was a population-based case control study of 2,016 women (ages 20--69) who had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 1,960 randomly selected age-matched controls. The study asked several questions, attempting to find out whether having been breast fed as an infant reduced the risk of that child developing breast cancer, whether birth order made any difference, and whether maternal age at the time of that child's birth had any impact on future breast cancer risk.
The study found that women who reported they had been breast-fed in infancy had a 17 percent decrease in breast cancer risk. For an unknown reason, this decreased risk did not apply to women who were first born children. The researchers postulated that this finding is supported by previous studies suggesting that the accumulation of environmental contaminants then secreted in maternal breast milk is highest for firstborn breast fed children than for subsequent children.
When it came to maternal age, there was no association between maternal age and breast cancer risk for women who had been breast fed. Surprisingly, among the group of women who were bottle fed, the higher the maternal age at birth, the lower the breast cancer risk of the children.
"The study results were a little confusing," said Dr. Donnica. "The important thing is to remember that we want to know how to reduce breast cancer risk. We've known for a long time that when mothers breast feed for more than six months, it reduces their own risk of breast cancer. We can't change whether or not we were breast fed, how old our mothers were when we were born, or what our birth order was, but we can reduce our risk of breast cancer in at least four other ways: don't smoke; limit alcohol intake to less than one drink per day; maintain a healthy weight; and follow appropriate clinical breast exam and mammography guidelines" .
To see a video of the segment, click here
Created: 5/12/2008  - Donnica Moore, M.D.