Breast cancer

02 November 2007

Breast sagging myth dispelled

Nursing mothers needn't worry - a new study shows that breastfeeding does not increase breast sagging.

Nursing mothers needn't worry - a new study shows that breastfeeding does not increase breast sagging.

"A lot of times, if a woman comes in for a breast lift or a breast augmentation, she'll say 'I want to fix what breastfeeding did to my breasts'," University of Kentucky plastic surgeon Dr Brian Rinker said. As a result, Rinker decided to find out if breast sagging was a direct result of breastfeeding.

Rinker and his colleagues interviewed 132 women who had come to the university for a breast lift or augmentation between 1998 and 2006. The women were, on average, 39 years old, 93 percent had had at least one pregnancy, and most of the mothers — 58 percent - had breastfed at least one child. Additionally, the research team evaluated the patients' medical history, body mass index, pre-pregnancy bra cup size, and smoking status.

The results showed no difference in the degree of breast ptosis (the medical term for sagging of the breast) for those women who breastfed and those who didn't. However, researchers found that several other factors did affect breast sagging, including age, the number of pregnancies, and whether the patient smoked.

"Smoking breaks down a protein in the skin called elastin, which gives youthful skin its elastic appearance and supports the breast … so it would make sense that it would have an adverse effect on the breasts," Rinker concluded. – (EurekAlert!)

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Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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