Effect of Breastfeeding on Women With History of Breast Cancer

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Buried deep within today’s NYT was this article about the effect of breastfeeding on younger women with a history of breast cancer:

Although several studies have found that  lactation is protective against breast cancer, the new report found little effect for premenopausal women over all. But for women with an immediate relative, like a mother or a sister, who had breast cancer, those who breast-fed had a 59 percent lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer. That is closer in line with the risk for women who had no disease in the family, the study found.“I was sort of stunned,”said Dr. Alison M. Stuebe, the first author of the study and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.”It’s an impressive reduction in risk. Other studies either hadn’t looked at this or didn’t include enough women with a family history to find a statistically significant difference.”

Yes, that’s right – a 59 percent lower risk for these women with an immediate relative with breast cancer!  Read the rest of the article for yourself here.    I helpfully provide the link because the story is difficult to find.    It’s not  on the front page of the paper nor on the front page of the Science section.   It’s not even summarized on the front page of the online section of the Science section (only a link), apparently bumped by other, more newsworthy articles.   See (here) for yourself.

Interesting the placement of this article, considering how much front page attention the media has given to the benefits of breastfeeding  for the baby (and all the guilt-tripping of those women who don’t).   The media message seems to be:     You should  breastfeed if you’re a good mom (although we’re not going to make it any easier for you by actually giving you a place to breastfeed at work, for example…) but not because it’s good for mom.

Yes, I am assuming that there are some women who may breastfeed because it will  save their lives who might not otherwise, for whatever reason  – and so what?

-Nancy Kim

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