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Breastfeeding protects against uterine cancer

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Women who have breastfed at least one child have a lower risk of developing uterine cancer, a global study has found.

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is the fifth most common cancer in Australian women.

The study, led by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, examined data from more than 26,000 women with at least one child.

Nearly 9000 of those women are living with uterine cancer.

“On the basis of this study, we can now confirm that there is a link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of uterine cancer,” head of QIMR Berghofer’s Cancer Causes and Care Group Susan Jordan said.

Findings show the risk of developing uterine cancer dropped by about seven per cent among women who breastfed for between three and six months, and 11 per cent for those who breastfed for six to nine months, compared to women who didn’t breastfeed.

“We can’t say that this is definitely a causal relationship,” Dr Jordan said.

“However, it is plausible that breastfeeding could directly reduce the risk by suppressing ovulation and reducing estrogen levels, and in turn reducing cell division in the lining of the uterus.”

Roughly 75 per cent of all cases of uterine cancer begin in the lining of the uterus, while a rarer form develops in the muscle tissue, according to Cancer Council Australia.

You can read the study here.