BACKGROUND - A protective effect of breastfeeding on childhood lymphoma has been indicated but supportive evidence is limited.
METHOD - Data from a population-based case-control study of childhood cancer in Shanghai, including 82 lymphoma cases and 159 acute leukaemia cases and their age- and sex-matched community controls, were analysed.
RESULTS - After adjustment for potentially confounding variables, a slight, although non-significant, reduction in risk of lymphoma was observed among children who were breastfed as infants versus those who were not (odds ratio [OR] = 0.69; 95% CI: 0.3-1.7). The reduction was somewhat greater for children who had been breastfed longer and appeared to pertain primarily to Hodgkin's disease and to cases diagnosed before the age of 6 years. As expected, there was no reduction in risk of acute leukaemia associated with breastfeeding.
CONCLUSIONS - Although providing neither strong support for nor refuting the study hypothesis, these data suggest that if breastfeeding does reduce the risk of lymphoma, its protective effect among Chinese children is likely modest in magnitude and concentrated in certain subgroups defined by length of breastfeeding, age at diagnosis and histological subtype of cancer.