Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 389–398 | Cite as

Being breastfed in infancy and adult breast cancer risk among Japanese women

  • Yuko Minami
  • Yoshikazu Nishino
  • Masaaki Kawai
  • Yoichiro Kakugawa
Original paper



Being breastfed in infancy has been hypothesized to influence subsequent breast cancer risk. In a hospital-based case–control study, we investigated the relationship between having been breastfed and breast cancer risk, both overall and separately among female subjects with different birth years.


The study subjects included 571 cases and 2,155 controls admitted to a single hospital in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, between 1997 and 2005. History of having been breastfed was assessed with a self-administered questionnaire. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated using logistic regression.


After adjustment for known risk factors, no association for having been breastfed was observed overall (OR = 1.20; 95% CI: 0.82–1.76). Analysis stratified according to birth year (<1950, ≥1950) demonstrated heterogeneity in the association for having been breastfed between the two birth-year groups (p for interaction = 0.0006); having been breastfed was significantly associated with a decreased risk among subjects who were born before 1950 (OR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.35–0.99), whereas no such risk reduction was observed for subjects born after 1950 (OR = 1.60; 95% CI: 0.88–2.90).


Although having been breastfed is not related to overall risk, birth year may modify the association between having been breastfed in infancy and breast cancer risk. In Japan, sociodemographic changes have occurred since the end of World War II. The use of standard formula supplement began to spread around 1950. The difference of breast cancer risk between birth-year groups may be attributable to these environmental changes.


Breast cancer Birth year Breast milk Breast-feeding Case–control study 



Odds ratio


Confidence interval


Miyagi Cancer Center Hospital



The authors are grateful to all staff members of the Miyagi Cancer Center who generously cooperated in this study. This work was supported by a grant for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan (H23-Kiban B-23390169).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuko Minami
    • 1
  • Yoshikazu Nishino
    • 2
  • Masaaki Kawai
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yoichiro Kakugawa
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Community HealthTohoku University Graduate School of MedicineSendaiJapan
  2. 2.Division of Cancer Epidemiology and PreventionMiyagi Cancer Center Research InstituteNatori, MiyagiJapan
  3. 3.Department of Surgical OncologyTohoku University Graduate School of MedicineSendaiJapan
  4. 4.Department of Breast OncologyMiyagi Cancer Center HospitalNatori, MiyagiJapan

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