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Economic and disease burden of breast cancer associated with suboptimal breastfeeding practices in Mexico

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Exclusive breastfeeding and longer breastfeeding reduce women’s breast cancer risk but Mexico has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates worldwide. We estimated the lifetime economic and disease burden of breast cancer in Mexico if 95% of parous women breastfeed each child exclusively for 6 months and continue breastfeeding for over a year.


We used a static microsimulation model with a cost-of-illness approach to simulate a cohort of Mexican women. We estimated breast cancer incidence, premature mortality, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), medical costs, and income losses due to breast cancer and extrapolated the results to 1.116 million Mexican women of age 15 in 2012. Costs were expressed in 2015 US dollars and discounted at a 3% annual rate.


We estimated that 2,186 premature deaths (95% CI 2,123–2,248), 9,936 breast cancer cases (95% CI 9,651–10,220), 45,109 DALYs (95% CI 43,000–47,217), and $245 million USD (95% CI 234–256) in medical costs and income losses owing to breast cancer could be saved over a cohort’s lifetime. Medical costs account for 80% of the economic burden; income losses and opportunity costs for caregivers account for 15 and 5%, respectively.


In Mexico, the burden of breast cancer due to suboptimal breastfeeding in women is high in terms of morbidity, premature mortality, and the economic costs for the health sector and society.

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Source: Authors’ elaboration

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This work was supported by a scholarship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT, in Spanish) with Grant Number 335672/232906 to MUM. The funder was not involved in developing this research in any way.

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MUM performed data extraction, model development, and statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. RM contributed to the model development and statistical analysis. RM, TGdC, GTM, and MAC participated in the interpretation of the results and contributed important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Teresita Gonzalez de Cosío.

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Unar-Munguía, M., Meza, R., Colchero, M.A. et al. Economic and disease burden of breast cancer associated with suboptimal breastfeeding practices in Mexico. Cancer Causes Control 28, 1381–1391 (2017).

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