Breastfeeding Reduces Breast Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study in India

Babita -, Neelam Kumar, Mahavir Singh, Jagbir S Malik, Meenakshi Kalhan


Background: Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. In India and other developing countries, breast carcinoma ranks second only to cervical carcinoma among women. Although studies have been done globally, to find the association between breastfeeding and breast cancer, very few studies in India document such a benefit.

Methods: A case–control study was done from August 2009 to July 2010 in the wards of General Surgery and Oncosurgery at Pt. B. D. Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak, Haryana, India. A total of 128 histopathologically confirmed new cases of breast cancer during the study period were taken as cases. Equal numbers of controls were selected by simple random sampling. Controls were matched for age with a range of ± 2 years. Subjects were interviewed using a pretested questionnaire after obtaining written informed consent. The categorical data were analyzed statistically using the Chi‑square test and odds ratio with a 95% confidence interval. Continuous variables were analyzed using an independent t‑test. All the analysis was done using SPSS, version 17.

Results: The age group of the cases was 25‑78 years, while that of the controls was 24‑79 years. The proportions of cases (56.3%) and controls (63.3%) living in rural areas were more than those living in urban areas. A significant association of breast cancer cases was found with caste, age at marriage, age at the first pregnancy, number of live births, and lifetime duration of breastfeeding. Conclusions: Breastfeeding has a significant role in reducing breast cancer, and so information, education, and communication activities for the promotion of breastfeeding and creating awareness about this fatal disease are the need of the hour.

Keywords: Breast cancer, breastfeeding, case–control

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