Endometrial Cancer and Breast-Feeding: Add Another Benefit to the Inventory

Summary and Comment |
May 18, 2017

Endometrial Cancer and Breast-Feeding: Add Another Benefit to the Inventory

  1. Robert L. Barbieri, MD

Breast-feeding each newborn for >3 months was associated with lower risk for endometrial cancer.

  1. Robert L. Barbieri, MD

Exclusive breast-feeding induces ovarian quiescence and decreases estrogen secretion. These changes may contribute to the mechanism linking breast-feeding and lower risk for breast and ovarian cancer. To investigate whether this relation extends to endometrial cancer, investigators pooled individual data from 3 cohort studies and 14 case-control studies including 8981 parous women with endometrial cancer and 17,241 parous controls. In both groups, about two thirds of women reported histories of breast-feeding.

Ever breast-feeding was associated with 11% lower risk for endometrial cancer (pooled odds ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.81–0.98). Although lifetime cumulative breast-feeding of ≤3 months and mean breast-feeding duration of ≤3 months per newborn did not affect risk for endometrial cancer, mean duration of breast-feeding up to 9 months was associated with steadily decreasing risk.

Comment

For newborns, breast milk is an optimal food because it contains unique oligosaccharides that promote healthy gut bacterial flora including proliferating Bifidobacterium longum biovar infantis, as well as antimicrobial agents (e.g., lactoferrin, secretory IgA). Breast-fed infants have lower risk for gastroenteritis, respiratory illness, otitis media, and urinary tract infections — and their mothers have lower risk for diabetes mellitus, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. The finding that breast-feeding each newborn for >3 months is associated with decreased risk for endometrial cancer highlights yet another potential health benefit of breast-feeding.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Robert L. Barbieri, MD at time of publication Editorial boards UpToDate; OBG Management

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