Being breastfed in infancy and breast cancer incidence in adult life: Results from the two nurses' health studies

Karin B. Michels, Dimitrios Trichopoulos, Bernard A. Rosner, David J. Hunter, Graham A. Colditz, Susan E. Hankinson, Frank E. Speizer, Walter C. Willett

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39 Scopus citations


Events during perinatal and early life may influence the incidence of breast cancer in adult life, and some case-control studies suggest that having been breastfed may reduce breast cancer risk. The authors studied this association among premenopausal and postmenopausal women by using data from the two Nurses' Health Studies, the Nurses' Health Study (using data from 1992 to 1996) and the Nurses' Health Study II (using data from 1991 to 1997). A history of being breastfed was self-reported by the study participants. During a total of 695,655 person-years, 1,073 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed. The authors did not observe any important overall association between having been breastfed and the development of breast cancer later in life among premenopausal women (covariate-adjusted relative risk = 0.97, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.78, 1.20) or postmenopausal women (covariate-adjusted relative risk = 1.12, 95% CI: 0.92, 1.37). No significant trend was observed with increasing duration of breastfeeding. The authors also used data on breastfeeding retrospectively collected from 2,103 mothers of participants of the two Nurses' Health Studies. With the mothers' reports, the covariate-adjusted odds ratio of breast cancer was 1.11 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.39) for women who were breastfed compared with those who were not. Data from these two large cohorts do not support the hypothesis that being breastfed confers protection against subsequent breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-283
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2001


  • Breast feeding
  • Breast neoplasms


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