Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1083–1090

Exposure to breast milk in infancy and risk of breast cancer


    • Slone Epidemiology CenterBoston University
  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
    • Dartmouth Medical SchoolNorris Cotton Cancer Center and Hood Center for Children and Families
  • Polly A. Newcomb
    • Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Wisconsin
    • Cancer Prevention ProgramFred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Amy Trentham-Dietz
    • Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Wisconsin
    • Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
    • Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public Health
  • John M. Hampton
    • Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of Wisconsin
  • Kathleen M. Egan
    • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteMedical Research Center
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10552-009-9332-0

Cite this article as:
Wise, L.A., Titus-Ernstoff, L., Newcomb, P.A. et al. Cancer Causes Control (2009) 20: 1083. doi:10.1007/s10552-009-9332-0


Early life exposures, such as being breastfed in infancy, may influence the risk of breast cancer in adulthood. We evaluated the risk of breast cancer in relation to ever having been breastfed in infancy among 9,442 women who participated in a population-based, case–control study. Cases were identified through cancer registries in three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin); controls were identified through statewide drivers’ license lists or medicare lists. Data on known and suspected risk factors were obtained through telephone interview. We used unconditional logistic regression to assess the relation of breast cancer with ever having been breastfed and with breastfeeding duration (available for only 19% of breastfed women) in premenopausal women (1,986 cases and 1,760 controls) and postmenopausal women (2,600 cases and 2,493 controls). We found no evidence that ever having been breastfed in infancy was associated with breast cancer risk in either premenopausal women (odds ratio [OR] = 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.83–1.10) or postmenopausal women (OR = 0.98; 95% CI = 0.87–1.10). The association did not differ according to breast cancer stage, mother’s history of breast cancer, or any other reproductive factor assessed. Likewise, we found no association between breastfeeding duration and risk of breast cancer. Our results did not support the hypothesis that exposure to breast milk in infancy influences the risk of adult breast cancer.


Breast cancerBreastfeedingMenopausal statusRisk factors



Odds ratio


Confidence interval

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009