Breastfeeding Mode and Risk of Breast Cancer: A Dose–Response Meta-Analysis

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Abstract

Background:

Breastfeeding reduces women’s risk of breast cancer. Since exclusive breastfeeding has a stronger hormonal effect, it could theoretically result in a greater reduction in breast cancer risk than any breastfeeding mode. No meta-analysis has examined breast cancer risk by breastfeeding mode.

Research aim:

The authors conducted a meta-analysis for breast cancer risk in parous women who breastfed exclusively or in any mode versus parous women who formula fed their infants, and they estimated the summary dose–response association by the accumulated duration of any breastfeeding mode.

Methods:

A systematic review of studies published between 2005 and 2015 analyzing breastfeeding and breast cancer risk in women was conducted in PubMed and EBSCOhost. A meta-analysis (n = 65 studies) with fixed effects (or random effects, if heterogeneity existed) was carried out stratified by breastfeeding mode and menopausal and parity status. A summary dose–response association was estimated using the generalized least-squares method.

Results:

The summary relative risk (SRR) for breast cancer in parous women who breastfed exclusively was 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.58, 0.90], versus parous women who had never breastfed. For parous women who breastfed in any mode, the SRR was lower in both premenopausal women (0.86, 95% CI [0.80, 0.93]) and postmenopausal women (0.89, 95% CI [0.83, 0.95]). There was no heterogeneity or publication bias. There is weak evidence of a difference between exclusive and any breastfeeding mode (p = .08). The summary dose–response curve was nonlinear (p < .001).

Conclusion:

Exclusive breastfeeding among parous women reduces the risk of breast cancer compared with parous women who do not breastfeed exclusively.

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