Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 201–207

Breast-feeding the last born child and risk of ovarian cancer

  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
  • Judy R. Rees
  • Kathryn L. Terry
  • Daniel W. Cramer
Original paper


Conflicting reports regarding the relationship between breast-feeding and ovarian cancer risk suggest a possible influence of patterns of breast-feeding. We used logistic regression to examine breast-feeding in a large population of parous women who participated in a case–control study of ovarian cancer in New Hampshire and MA, USA. Risk of ovarian cancer was reduced in parous women who ever breast-fed (OR: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.92), but evidence was limited for an influence of duration of breast-feeding and the number of children breast-fed. Compared to never breast-feeding, inverse associations were seen for breast-feeding all children (OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.58, 0.91) and for breast-feeding some children when the last born child was breast-fed (OR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.37, 0.91). There was little evidence of reduced risk for those who breast-fed some children when the last born child was not breast-fed (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.66, 1.26). Similar findings were noted in women with exactly two children and in those with two or more children. The protective influence of breast-feeding on ovarian cancer risk may be limited to women who breast-feed their last born child. These findings, which require confirmation by future studies, imply that breast-feeding resets pregnancy-related states that mediate ovarian cancer risk.


Ovarian cancer Breast-feeding Parity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
    • 1
    • 2
  • Judy R. Rees
    • 1
  • Kathryn L. Terry
    • 3
  • Daniel W. Cramer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Community & Family MedicineDartmouth Medical SchoolLebanonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsDartmouth Medical SchoolLebanonUSA
  3. 3.Ob-Gyn Epidemiology Center, Brigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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