The Correlation Between Breast Cancer and Breast Feeding

Most people know there are many benefits to breastfeeding. We’ve probably all heard that it’s the best source of nutrition for most babies and provides many health benefits for infants. But did you know that breastfeeding will lower your chance of breast cancer? Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy and a major cause of cancer deaths among women. Every year more than one million new cases are detected worldwide. With 502,000 deaths in 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth. In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. This shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage, thus helping to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer.

To get the health benefits of breastfeeding, you should do it exclusively for at least six months, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Health Organization. That means your baby receives only breast milk – no water, other liquids or solids.  Evidence shows that the health benefits and your cancer risk reduction become significant at six months and beyond. And breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients your baby needs during this time to develop and stay healthy.

Breastfeeding past six months is not only beneficial for your child’s health, but the longer you do it, the more protection you receive against breast and ovarian cancers. In a study by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, researchers found that for every 12 months a woman breastfed, her risk of breast cancer decreased by 4.3%. The study compared mothers who breastfed to those who didn’t.

Furthermore, Australian researchers found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63% less likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who breastfed for less than seven months. Women who breastfed multiple children for more than 31 months could reduce their ovarian cancer risk by up to 91% compared to women who breastfed for less than 10 months..

-Po r     K is      n

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