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Breastfeeding May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

This article is more than 10 years old.

New research out of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School shows that breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

The researchers looked at data from about 60,000 women. Among those who already had a family history of breast cancer, their risk of getting breast cancer themselves dropped almost 60 percent if they breastfed their children.

Alison Stuebe was the study's lead researcher at the Brigham and Harvard Medical.

"Often in public discourse about breastfeeding, it's set up as the mother having to do this thing that's a lot of effort and time on her part because it's good for her baby," said Stuebe, who is now an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "But we see here that mothers also benefit when breastfeeding goes well."

Even more striking, Steube said, is that how long a woman breastfeeds doesn't seem to matter; just breastfeeding at all seems to provide that protective anti-cancer benefit.

The study appears in Monday's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

This program aired on August 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.

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