A new analysis has found that breastfeeding for more than six months may help protect nonsmoking mothers from acquiring breast cancer.
To look at the relationship between breast cancer and certain aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding, Emilio Gonzalez-Jimenez, PhD, of the University of Granada in Spain, and his colleagues analysed the medical records of 504 female patients who were 19 to 91 years of age and who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from 2004 to 2009 at the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada.
The team looked at factors including age of diagnosis, how long the women breastfed, family history of cancer, obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits.
Their analysis revealed that women who underwent childbirth and who breastfed were diagnosed with breast cancer at a later age, regardless of the patients’ family history of cancer.
Non-smokers who breastfed for periods of longer than six months tended to be diagnosed with breast cancer much later in life — an average of 10 years later than non-smokers who breastfed for a shorter period.
In contrast, female smokers were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and obtained no significant benefit from a longer period of breastfeeding.
The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.