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    Research Fast Facts: Prevention
    Fact Sheet

    Breastfeeding and breast cancer risk

    Breastfeeding protects against breast cancer (especially premenopausal breast cancer) [11,57-59]. Breastfeeding appears to lower the risk of both estrogen receptor-positive and estrogen receptor-negative breast cancers [59].  

    In a pooled analysis of data from 47 studies, mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total (combined duration of breastfeeding for all children) of one year were slightly less likely to get breast cancer than those who never breastfed [58]. Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of two years got about twice the benefit of those who breastfed for a total of one year. Women who breastfed for a lifetime total of more than two years got even more benefit [58].  

    Although data are limited, breastfeeding for less than one year may also modestly lower breast cancer risk [58].

    Other health benefits of breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding has other benefits for the mother, including lowering the risk of [60-61]:

    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Postpartum depression

     

    For a summary of research studies on breastfeeding and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research section.

    Learn about other healthy lifestyle behaviors that may lower breast cancer risk.

     Susan G. Komen®’s breast self-awareness messages    

     

    1. Know your risk

    • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history  
    • Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer

    2. Get screened

    3. Know what is normal for you and see your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes (see images):

    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
    • New pain in one spot that doesn't go away

    4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

     

    Updated 11/11/13

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