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Breastfeeding Protects Nonsmoking Moms From Breast Cancer

Update Date: Aug 15, 2013 11:18 AM EDT

Breast really is best for mother and baby- but only if mom doesn't smoke.  A new study found that breastfeeding for more than six months can protect nonsmoking mothers against breast cancer.

However, the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, shows that the same does not apply to mothers who smoke.

Lead researcher Emilio González-Jiménez, PhD, of the University of Granada in Spain, and his colleagues looked at medical records of 504 female patients who were 19 to 91 years of age and who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from 2004 to 2009 at the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada.

Researchers examined factors like age of diagnosis, how long the women breastfed, family history of cancer, obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking habits.

Study results showed that women who underwent childbirth and who breastfed were diagnosed with breast cancer at a later age, regardless of the patients' family history of cancer.

The findings revealed that nonsmokers who breastfed for longer than six months were diagnosed with breast cancer on average 10 years later than nonsmokers who breastfed for a shorter period.

On the other hand, female smokers were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and obtained no significant benefit from a longer period of breastfeeding.

"The results suggest that for nonsmokers, breastfeeding for more than six months not only provides children with numerous health benefits, but it also may protect mothers from breast cancer," Dr. González-Jiménez said in a news release.

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