UC San Diego researchers were surprised to find breastfeeding may put Mexican-American women at higher risk of developing breast cancer than their non-Hispanic counterparts.
More than 1,000 Mexican and Mexican-American cancer patients took part in the four-year Ella Binational Breast Cancer Study.
Results of the study announced Tuesday suggested that women who had three or more kids and breastfed for 12 months or more were more likely to have an aggressive form of breast cancer.
On average, the participants gave birth to their first child by 23 and had two to three children who were breastfed for long periods of time.
“We found that breastfeeding in women of Mexican descent is associated with triple negative breast cancer,” said María Elena Martínez, MPH, PhD, lead author of the study based out of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
Prior studies, primarily involving non-Hispanic white women, showed the same pattern as offering some benefit to preventing breast cancer.
“Our results are both puzzling and disconcerting because we do not want to give the wrong message about breastfeeding,” said Martínez. “If you treat breast cancer as one disease, breastfeeding is beneficial to both mother and baby. That should not be dismissed.”