Breastfeeding and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer among women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation

the Hereditary Ovarian Cancer Clinical Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: BRCA mutation carriers face a high lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. The strong inverse association between breastfeeding and the risk of ovarian cancer is established in the general population but is less well studied among women with a germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Method: Thus, we conducted a matched case-control analysis to evaluate the association between breastfeeding history and the risk of developing ovarian cancer. After matching for year of birth, country of residence, BRCA gene and personal history of breast cancer, a total of 1650 cases and 2702 controls were included in the analysis. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) associated with various breastfeeding exposures. Results: A history of ever-breastfeeding was associated with a 23% reduction in risk (OR = 0.77; 95%CI 0.66–0.90; P = 0.001). The protective effect increased with breastfeeding from one month to seven months after which the association was relatively stable. Compared to women who never breastfed, breastfeeding for seven or more months was associated with a 32% reduction in risk (OR = 0.68; 95%CI 0.57–0.81; P < 0.0001) and did not vary by BRCA gene or age at diagnosis. The combination of breastfeeding and oral contraceptive use was strongly protective (0.47; 95%CI 0.37–0.58; P < 0.0001). Conclusions: These findings support a protective effect of breastfeeding for at least seven months among women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, that is independent of oral contraceptive use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-826
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • BRCA1
  • BRCA2
  • Breastfeeding
  • Ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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