Breastfeeding and its Relationship with Reduction of Breast Cancer: A Review


In this review, we describe the patterns of known immunological components in breast milk and examinethe relationship between breastfeeding and reduced risk of breast cancer. The top risk factors for breast cancerare a woman’s age and family history, specifically having a first-degree relative with breast cancer. Women thathave a history of breastfeeding have been shown to have reduced rates of breast cancer. Although the specificcause has not been elucidated, previous studies have suggested that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breastcancer primarily through two mechanisms: the differentiation of breast tissue and reduction in the lifetimenumber of ovulatory cycles. In this context, one of the primary components of human milk that is postulatedto affect cancer risk is alpha-lactalbumin. Tumour cell death can be induced by HAMLET (a human milkcomplex of alpha-lactalbumin and oleic acid). HAMLET induces apoptosis only in tumour cells, while normaldifferentiated cells are resistant to its effects. Therefore, HAMLET may provide safe and effective protectionagainst the development of breast cancer. Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed their babies because thecomplex components of human milk secretion make it an ideal food source for babies and clinical evidence hasshown that there is a lower risk of breast cancer in women who breastfed their babies.