A message from our friends at the Army of Women

Breast milk may hold a clue to giving women information about their personal risk of developing breast cancer. We are recruiting women who are breastfeeding moms who have had a breast biopsy in the past or are scheduled to have a breast biopsy to send in samples of their breast milk.

We have recruited for this study in the past, and have already enrolled more than 250 women, but most of the samples have come from Caucasian women. Since breast cancer risk factors differ between ethnic groups, we are now looking specifically for African American breastfeeding moms. Read on to learn more! Not breastfeeding yourself but know a woman who is? Forward the Call to Action!

What’s the study about?

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are studying the breast cells normally found in breast milk to see if there are any epigenetic differences–which have the potential to be reversed–between women whose biopsies turn out to be healthy and those whose biopsies show a problem, such as cancer.

Learning more about these epigenetic differences may eventually help researchers develop a way to provide women with information about their breast cancer risk.

What’s involved?

If you sign up for the Milk Study, you will be contacted by the research team to confirm that you are eligible for the study. If you are eligible and decide to join, you will receive a container in the mail containing sterile bottles for milk collection, a consent form, a patient eligibility form, and a questionnaire. You will be asked to complete the consent and eligibility forms and questionnaire, which will ask questions about your breastfeeding history, medical history, and any previous biopsies you may have had. You will be asked to donate two fresh milk samples (one from each breast).

You will put the signed consent form, completed patient eligibility form and questionnaire, and breast milk in the box they came in and the box will be picked up by Fedex (at no cost to you).

After the research team receives your breast milk samples, they will contact you to ask if you have had a breast biopsy. If you have had a biopsy, you will be asked to provide a copy of the biopsy report.

Approximately 1 year after sending your breast milk sample, the research team will contact you to ask about any breast problems you have had in the last year.

The information you provide is confidential and will be kept private.

The researchers need to enroll up to 200 African American women in this study.

Who can participate?

You can join the Milk Study if you match ALL of these categories:

– You are a nursing/breastfeeding mom

– You consider yourself to be African American/Black

– You have had a breast biopsy at any time in the past OR you are going to have a breast biopsy to diagnose a lump found in your breast

– You live in the United States

After you RSVP, the research team will ask additional questions to be sure this study is the right fit for you.

Who is conducting the study?

Kathleen Arcaro, PhD, Douglas Anderton, PhD, and Sarah Lenington PhD, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts


Anywhere in the United States, all necessary participation in handled through the mail.