Did you know that multiple childbirth is linked to rare but aggressive breast cancer? This unhappy findings come from a study led by Amanda Phipps, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the Public Health Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The researchers found that women who have multiple childbirth have higher risk of triple-negative breast cancer, a rare subtype, quite different from the common forms.”The mechanisms by which full-term pregnancy contributes to an increased risk of triple-negative breast cancer and a decreased risk of other forms of the disease are not clear,” Phipps said. “We do know that the hormones of pregnancy induce certain changes in the cellular structure of the breast.
Overall, those changes seem to make the breast less susceptible to cancer. It is possible, however, that the increased risk of triple-negative breast cancer we found in women who had given birth may be due to some abnormal response of their breast tissue to the hormones of pregnancy. Another possibility is that pregnancy somehow makes the breast more susceptible to certain carcinogens even while reducing breast cancer risk overall,” she said. For the study, Phipps and colleagues analyzed the detailed reproductive histories of some 150,000 postmenopausal women, more than 300 of whom went on to develop triple-negative breast cancer. “The mechanisms that lead to triple-negative breast cancer are likely different from those that lead to other forms of the disease. We still have a lot to learn about what causes this more aggressive form of breast cancer, but we hope that research like this will help us develop better tools to identify those women at greatest risk” Phipps said. Such a terrible disease, the breast cancer, has a new price. None guessed the price could be the gift of maternity.