Mammary stem cells and parity-induced breast cancer protection- new insights

Genevieve Dall, Gail Risbridger, Kara Britt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Parity (childbearing) significantly decreases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and the protective effect is greater if the woman is younger and has more children. The mechanism/s of parity-induced protection are not known. Although several factors are postulated to play a role, we discuss how a reduction in the number of mammary stem cells (MaSCs) may lead to a reduction in breast cancer risk in parous women. Firstly we review the epidemiology linking childbearing to reduced breast cancer risk and discuss how additional births, a young age at first full term birth, and breastfeeding impact the protection. We then detail the mouse and human studies implicating MaSC in parity induced protection and the in-vivo work being performed in mice to directly investigate the effect of parity on MaSC. Finally we discuss the transplant and lineage tracing experiments assessing MaSC activity according to parity and the need to define if MaSC are indeed more carcinogen sensitive than mature mammary epithelial cells. Continuing and future studies attempting to define the parity induced mechanisms will aid in the development of preventative therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • breast cancer
  • parity
  • mammary stem cells

Cite this