Breastfeeding and birth control ‘may cut ovarian cancer risk’

15 May 2014

Oral contraceptives, breastfeeding and tubal ligation could lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer for women with the BRCA gene mutations, according to new research from University of Pennsylvania's Basser Research Centre for BRCA and the Abramson Cancer Centre.

Scientists conducted a meta-analysis of 44 existing studies and found that breastfeeding and tubal ligation were linked to reduced occurrences of the disease in women carrying the BRCA1 mutation.

They also discovered the use of oral contraceptives was associated with a lower chance of developing ovarian cancers in those with both the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

The research team also identified factors that could increase the risk among this particular group of women. For instance, smoking can raise the risk of breast cancer for patients with the BRCA2.

Timothy R. Rebbeck, lead author of the study, said: “Our analysis reveals that heredity is not destiny, and that working with their physicians and counselors, women with BRCA mutations can take proactive steps that may reduce their risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”

He believes the findings demonstrate that there is sufficient information that indicates how some variables might impact the risk of developing cancer for this group of women.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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