The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Research Shows Black Mothers Who Breast-Feed Are Reducing Their Risk of Getting Breast Cancer


According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Black women aged 45-64. A recent study at Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center may have discovered why. The study uncovered data that points to a higher risk for a more aggressive type of breast cancer for Black mothers who don't breast-feed their babies.

The study included 3,700 black breast cancer patients among whom one third had an aggressive type of breast cancer that was more likely to lead to death. Women who had children were more than 30 percent likely to develop this type of breast cancer than women with no children, and women who had 3-4 children but never breast-fed them had a 68 percent greater chance of developing this type of cancer than women who had only one child but breast-fed.

The study results were alarming in view of previous medical research which indicated that breast cancer risk in general is higher during the first 5-10 years after giving birth and reduces in risk after. But the recent study showed that the risk for the more aggressive type of breast cancer, called estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, may continue long after.

This is not good news for black women aged 45-64 who already have a 60 percent higher risk for breast cancer death than white women, according to information from the CDC. But discovering this information may help in treating more black women at high risk and is a "factor that could prevent some cases of this breast cancer subtype and reduce the number of African American women dying from this disease," commented Professor Julie Palmer from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center.

For more information on the study, read the article by MedlinePlus, the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends, at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/aboutmedlineplus.html
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