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For some time, medical experts believed that hormonal changes associated with pregnancy could spur the return of breast cancer in patients who had recently beaten the disease. However, new research study suggests that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and have children afterwards may actually improve their survival odds.
In the study, presented this week at the European Breast Cancer Conference, in Barcelona, European researchers performed a meta-analysis of 14 separate trials conducted over a 30-year period.
After examining the trials, which included nearly 20,000 breast cancer patients, the research team found that women who became pregnant following their diagnosis had a 42 percent lower mortality rate than those who did not get pregnant.
"For many years, pregnancy was considered a risk for women who had breast cancer," said Maria Leadbeater, a cancer expert at Breast Cancer Care, quoted by the Associated Press. "But this study seems to show the risk is not an issue once you've been treated."
Although the study authors have yet to define the specific mechanism responsible for the apparent defense that pregnancy provides from breast cancer recurrence or death, they speculate that it may have to do with the protective antibodies and hormones that a mother produces during pregnancy, Health Day News reports.
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