This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

GPs should consider childbirth as a risk factor for breast cancer

GPs should consider childbirth as a risk factor for breast cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers found that compared with women who have never given birth, women who have are at an increased risk for breast cancer for more than 20 years after giving birth.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, used a pooled analysis of individual-level data from 15 prospective cohort studies, including women younger than 55 years, across three continents.

Altogether, during 9.6m person-years of follow-up, there were 18,826 incident cases of breast cancer diagnosed among 889,944 women.

The study said: ‘Compared with nulliparous women (those who have never given birth), parous (those who have given birth) women had a hazard ratio for breast cancer that peaked about five years after birth before decreasing to 0.77 after 34 years. The association crossed over from positive to negative about 24 years after birth.

‘The overall pattern was driven by oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer; no crossover was seen for oestrogen receptor-negative cancer.’

Estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer is the most common type, with about 70% of all cases being this type.

The authors concluded: ‘Compared with nulliparous women, parous women have an increased risk for breast cancer for more than 20 years after childbirth. Health care providers should consider recent childbirth a risk factor for breast cancer in young women.’

In November, the Government announced a 'major overhaul' of the UK national cancer screening programmes, including cervical, breast and bowel.

Readers' comments (4)

  • This is the opposite to what was taught previously... How medicine progresses...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Since 2ww guidance is currently

    "refer 2ww for woman with discrete lump over the age of 30",

    it is hard to see what GPs might do differently in view of this finding.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Dylan - I guess advise inform women trying to be pregnant, that it is a risk factor for breast cancer. Might scare them off it....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cobblers

    Scene Hospice bed circa 2060.

    Q So Mrs X I see you are lying here on your own?

    A Yes my husband died 2 years ago and we decided in 2019 not to have children based on a breast cancer study that showed that childbirth increased the risk of breast cancer.

    Q If I may ask why are you here?

    A I am dying of breast cancer.

    Carpe Diem is not a bad philosophy.

    Children do give more to your life than they take, usually.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say