Women who delay childbirth past age 25 have an increased risk of breast cancer. But that risk can be offset if they breastfeed their babies, research shows.
"Evidence suggests that women who have children after age 25 can reduce their risk of breast cancer by choosing to breastfeed," said Dr. Giske Ursin, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. The findings were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Los Angeles.
Scientists analyzed data for women who participated in the Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences Study, which has followed thousands of women for a number of years.
Previous results from the CARE study showed that early age at first pregnancy (younger than 25) and having many children (defined as four or more) were associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.
The good news, Ursin said, is that "breastfeeding may have a protective effect that negates the increased risk of breast cancer associated with late pregnancies."