A new study that was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment has shown that there may be a correlation between waiting to have children and a reduced risk of getting the worst kind of breast cancer. The rare and aggressive form of breast cancer called “triple-negative” occurs most often in African American women. In previous studies, indications have point to a reduced chance of breast cancer in women who have had a child and breast fed. Particularly estrogen positive breast cancers. Breast feeding also seems to reduce the risk of this especially virulent form of breast cancer, triple-negative.
An important aspect of this research is that this is one of the first studies of breast cancer in premenopausal women. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center compared the data from 2000 women ages 20 years old through 44 years old. They looked at the half that had had breast cancer, and specifically the subtypes of breast cancer, and then compared the results to the reproductive histories of the women who had not had breast cancer. This was about half of the studied group.
The findings were that women who waited 15 years from their first menarche to have a child had the lowest percentage of instances of triple-negative breast cancer. Waiting the 15 years seemed to reduce the risk by a whopping 60%! Breast feeding also seemed to reduce the risk of triple-negative breast cancer. This study did not, however, find any correlation between two other types of breast cancer with these variables: estrogen positive or HER2-overexpressing breast cancers.
The research has provided no causal relationship between the variables, so we just don’t know why waiting to have a child and breast feeding lowers the chances of contracting this aggressive form of breast cancer. However, the researchers did hypothesize that the reason more African American women are susceptible to triple-negative breast cancer may be cultural rather than genetic. Many African American women tend to have children earlier, and often do not breast feed when compared to some other cultural groups. So although the average age of a first child has risen 5 years or more in many places in the US since 1990, Asian or Pacific Islander women tended to wait the longest, followed by non-Hispanic white women. African American women and Native American women tended to have children younger, but Native America women tended to breast feed more often.
Just a helpful report for you ladies, so don’t forget to do your self-examinations especially if you are not yet having mammograms regularly. You can still do standard Breast Self Exam (BSE) after breast augmentation! In fact, it is often easier to feel for lumps because the tissue is pressed forward. BSEs should be performed at least monthly.
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