Breastfeeding linked to lower risk of uterine cancer

Published:

NOTE: This article is older than 12 months
Dr Susan Jordan

An international study has found that women who have breastfed at least one child have a lower risk of cancer of the uterus.

The study, which was led by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, is the largest and most comprehensive to be conducted into the link between breastfeeding and uterine cancer. The findings have been published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Cancer of the uterus (also known as endometrial cancer) is the fifth most common cancer in Australian women. Rates have been increasing over recent decades. Cancer Australia estimates that nearly 2,900 new cases will be diagnosed in 2017.

The head of QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Causes and Care Group, Dr Susan Jordan, and her colleagues examined data from more than 26,000 women with at least one child, including nearly 9,000 women with uterine cancer.

“We looked at the total amount of time these women had spent breastfeeding over the course of their lives,” Dr Jordan said.

“We found that women who had ever breastfed had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing uterine cancer than women who had never breastfed.”

The researchers also looked at how long the women had breastfed individual children for.

“We found that the longer women breastfed each child, the more their risk of uterine cancer reduced, up until about nine months when the reduction in risk plateaued,” Dr Jordan said.

“When women breastfed for between three and six months, their risk dropped by about seven per cent per child compared to women with children who didn’t breastfeed. And when women breastfed for between six and nine months, their risk dropped by 11 per cent for each child they nursed.

“In other words, a woman who breastfed two children for nine months each had around a 22 per cent lower risk of uterine cancer than a woman who had never breastfed her children.”

Numerous studies have identified a link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of breast cancer. However, previous studies into the relationship between breastfeeding and uterine cancer have had conflicting and inconclusive findings.

“On the basis of this study, we can now confirm that there is a link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of uterine cancer,” Dr Jordan said.

“We can’t say that this is definitely a causal relationship. However, it is plausible that breastfeeding could directly reduce the risk by suppressing ovulation and reducing estrogen levels, and in turn reducing cell division in the lining of the uterus.

“It is important to point out that breastfeeding won’t guarantee that a woman won’t develop cancer of the uterus, and, conversely, not breastfeeding doesn’t mean a woman will get uterine cancer.

“However, this study strongly suggests that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk. It’s already well known that breast feeding has lots of great benefits for mums and their babies. This is just one more benefit to add to the list.

“For a whole range of reasons, some women are either unable to breastfeed, or struggle with breastfeeding. While it’s important not to put more pressure on these women, this study suggests that supporting women to breastfeed could help reduce the incidence of uterine cancer.”

The study involved collaborators from the United States, Europe and China.

 
Health & Wellness Lifestyle Science & Research
Social:   

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute :
PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, 4029, Brisbane
07 3845 3752
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Clinical trial finds vitamin D does not ward off colds and flu 14 January 2021 | A QIMR Berghofer-led randomised controlled trial of vitamin D supplements has found they do not protect most people from developing colds, flus and other acute respiratory infections. More information...
Every pregnancy helps reduce endometrial cancer risk 17 November 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer research has found each additional pregnancy a woman experiences, including those that result in miscarriage, can help reduce her risk of developing endometrial cancer. More information...
No genetic signs that hearing loss causes Alzheimer’s disease 14 October 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer and QUT research has found there is no strong genetic evidence that hearing loss causes Alzheimer’s disease, despite both conditions sharing a significant number of genetic variants. More information...
Some school anti-bullying programs may do more harm than good 23 October 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer analysis of research on school anti-bullying programs has concluded that programs that encourage bystanders to intervene may inadvertently harm the children they are aimed at protecting. More information...
Melanoma risk not as obvious as some think 20 October 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer research has found almost a quarter of the Queensland population underestimates their risk of developing potentially deadly melanomas – with those at highest risk also the worst at predicting... More information...
Study finds ways to reduce the risk of common Queensland skin tumour 08 October 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer research has found limiting sun exposure, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol could help Queenslanders avoid developing the common skin tumour keratoacanthoma (KA). More information...
Researchers get a better grip on left and right handedness 29 September 2020 | In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers have identified 48 genetic variants that influence if a person is left-handed, right-handed or ambidextrous. More information...
New potential weapon found in battle against cancer and inflammatory diseases 24 August 2020 | QIMR Berghofer-led research has discovered the pivotal role played by an important immune system protein that, if harnessed through immunotherapy, has the potential to treat a wide range of cancers and inflamma... More information...
Brain cancer clinical trial gives hope to patients 13 August 2020 | Queensland researchers have found that patients who received a cellular immunotherapy for the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in a clinical trial on average survived longer than would have been... More information...
Pessimistic outlook on life linked to life expectancy 29 July 2020 | A new QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute study has found people who are strongly pessimistic about the future are at greater risk of dying earlier than those who are not pessimists. More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service