A new survey shows that although nearly 60 percent of breastfeeding mothers knew about the link between breastfeeding and breast cancer risk reduction, just 16 percent say they learned this from a medical professional.
This is concerning, says study principal investigator Bhuvana Ramaswamy, MD, because women should be informed that breastfeeding can reduce breast cancer risk and improve mother’s health. Epidemiological studies show strong correlation between prolonged breastfeeding and reduced risk of developing triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer. This knowledge is especially relevant for African American women considering whether to breastfeed, who are two times more likely to develop triple negative breast cancer when compared with women of other ethnicities.
“We have a duty as a medical community to ensure our patients have reliable knowledge,” said Ramaswamy, breast medical oncology division director at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). “When it comes from a professional, medical information is much more likely to affect people’s choices. When it comes to breast cancer specifically, prevention is the best outcome.”
For this study, OSUCCC – James researchers conducted a survey of 724 women who had at least one live birth. Survey respondents were recruited through the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center primary care practices and a national clinical research registry.
While a majority of respondents – 92 percent – reported that they had chosen to breastfeed, only 56 percent of all respondents noted that they were aware of the link between prolonged breastfeeding and breast cancer risk reduction prior to making the decision. Among those that did not breastfeed, 59 percent say that knowledge of this risk reduction would have impacted their decision to breastfeed.
The data was published in the medical journal Breastfeeding Medicine.
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