We have long been told that among the many benefits, breastfeeding is the one that lowers the woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Is this really the case and if so why is it so?
Though studies have found breast feeding to be beneficial for preventing breast cancer, studies have also shown that lactation is of little protection for premenopausal women over all. Those women who were seen to benefit from having breast fed were the ones who had a family history of breast cancer.
A 59 % lower risk of premenopausal cancer was seen among those women who had a sister or mother (immediate relative) with breast cancer.
In fact, in these cases it was seen that breast cancer risk is reduced by breast feeding as effectively as by using Tamoxifen, a common treatment that interferes with estrogen activity to protect against breast cancer. Again this is in case of high risk women with family histories.
However, other studies have also shown that evidence about breastfeeding being protected against cancer is inadequate and that there could be other factors that contribute to reducing the risk.