American Association for Cancer Research

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Prolonged Formula Feeding, Delay in Solid Foods Was Associated With Increased Risk for Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia


October 17, 2012

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  • Each additional month of feeding formula raised cancer risk by 16 percent.
  • Each additional month of delaying solid food increased risk by 14 percent.
  • Link between breast-feeding, immune system development may explain findings.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Results of one study indicate that the risk for developing pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia increased the longer a baby was fed formula and the longer solid foods were delayed.

“For every month that a child was fed formula, taking into account other feeding practices, we found that the risk for this type of cancer was higher,” said Jeremy Schraw, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin, who presented the findings of an epidemiological study at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held here Oct. 16-19, 2012. “If a baby is fed only formula, he or she will not be getting any immune factors from the mother, which could be leading to this greater risk.”

Schraw and colleagues surveyed 284 controls and 142 children from the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and the National Children’s Study in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, who had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Compared with controls, children diagnosed with ALL started solid foods significantly later, more of their mothers smoked during pregnancy and they had a longer duration of formula feeding.

Researchers found that the risk for developing ALL increased by 16 percent for every month of formula feeding. In addition, for each month the introduction of solid foods was delayed, the risk increased by 14 percent.

“One explanation for this co-risk may be that it’s the same effect being picked up twice,” said Schraw. “Children being given solid foods later may be receiving formula longer.”
Future research should address the factors influencing prolonged formula feeding and delay in solid food introduction, according to the researchers.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.

For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In Anaheim, Oct. 16-19:
(714) 740-4540