Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer: a call for action in high-income countries with low rates of breastfeeding

Stordal, Britta K. ORCID logoORCID: (2022) Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer: a call for action in high-income countries with low rates of breastfeeding. Cancer Medicine . ISSN 2045-7634 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1002/cam4.5288)

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Women in the UK have a 15% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Like other high-income countries, women in the UK are having children later in life which increases their risk. The risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding, this is in addition to the 7.0% decrease in risk observed for each birth. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (20%) and in carriers of BRCA1 mutations (22–55%). The mechanisms of reduced risk as a result of pregnancy are related to changes in RNA processing and cellular differentiation. The UK has a low rate of breastfeeding (81%) and this is contrasted to countries with higher (Sweden, Australia) and lower rates (Ireland). The low UK rate is in part due to a lack of experience in the population, todays grandmothers have less experience with breastfeeding (62%) than their daughters. An estimated 4.7% of breast cancer cases in the UK are caused by not breastfeeding. The UK only has 43% of maternity services with full Baby-Friendly accreditation which promotes compliance with the WHO ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breast Feeding’. Legislation in the UK and Europe is far short of the WHO Guidance on restricting the advertising of formula milk. Expansion of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, stricter laws on the advertising of formula milk and legislation to support nursing mothers in the workplace have the potential to increase breastfeeding in the UK. Women with a family history of breast cancer should particularly be supported to breastfeed as a way of reducing their risk.

Item Type: Article
Sustainable Development Goals:
Keywords (uncontrolled): BRCA1/2 mutation, breast cancer, breastfeeding, pregnancy, risk, triple‐negative breast cancer
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences > Biomarkers for Cancer group
Item ID: 36352
Notes on copyright: © 2022 The Author. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Depositing User: Britta Stordal
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2022 09:45
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2022 09:47

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