Abstract African American women are both more likely to develop and die from Triple Negative Breast Cancer than their white counterparts. Concurrently, African American women breastfeed at significantly lower rates than white mothers. These two overlapping disparities highlight potential epidemiological, but more importantly epigenetic mechanisms for addressing and eliminating the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality. Breastfeeding is highly associated with multiple cancers, including Triple Negative Breast, through hormonal changes. But recent evidence is also suggesting immunoprotein contributors, as well as permanent microenvironment and genetic transcription changes after breastfeeding which may influence tumorigenesis in the breast. While scientific research has led to confident claims about the mechanistic framework for breastfeeding as a protective factor, little has translated to clinical outcomes aside from greater promotion of breastfeeding. The following paper reviews the literature on the mechanisms for breastfeeding as a protective factor against breast cancer and concludes with a discussion on clinical and translational opportunities to improve outcomes and eliminate the disparity in mortality. Acknowledgments: Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, FACP; Kay Macleod, Ph.D. The research, development, and revision for this manuscript were funded by the University of Chicago Komen Breast Cancer Disparities Fellowship. This manuscript was originally developed for a graduate course in cancer biology called “Heterogeneity in Human Cancer”, taught by Professor Kay Macleod. I’d like to thank Professor Macleod and my mentor, Dr. Funmi Olopade for their support and guidance during my fellowship.



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