Breastfeeding and Cancer

Breastfeeding and cancer… what are the risks for women who do not choose to breastfeed? Thousands of women might be spared the pain and sadness of breast cancer if they nursed their babies longer.

Published research suggests that for every year of her life spent breastfeeding, a woman's risk of developing cancer drops by 4.3%. The American Institute for Cancer Research analyzed data from 98 studies on lactation and breast cancer risk and has stated that the evidence is now "convincing" that breast feeding lowers the risk of both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal breast cancer.

Experts say that too few women in western countries breastfeed their babies. Many moms give up before breastfeeding gets off to a good start because there simply isn’t enough support out there for them.

What is the Connection Between Breast feeding and Cancer Risk?

The current medical belief is that breastfeeding changes the balance of hormones which, includes female sex hormones, such as estrogen. Research studies have found that estrogen levels are lower in women who are breastfeeding. The more years a woman breastfeeds overall, the less she will be at risk of developing breast cancer.

We are able to look to the developing world and see how the effects of long term breastfeeding work to prevent breast cancer. On average women in the developing world breastfeed for approximately two years, and have six or seven children. It's long been known that breast cancer is common in western countries where women have few children and breastfeed for short periods or not at all and it has been observed that these factors alone account for much of the high rates of breast cancer in these settings.

It may also be understood that lactation, like a full-term pregnancy, may cause breast cells to become more differentiated and mature making them less sensitive to the DNA damage that can lead to cancer.

Is the relationship between breastfeeding and cancer risk enough to make more mothers breastfeed their babies?

Breastfeeding After Cancer

For some women the question is not whether they will reduce their risk – rather, “Can I breastfeed my baby AFTER having breast cancer?” The answer is yes. Once you have completed chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. If you have a healthy breast, breastfeeding is possible and safe AFTER breast cancer. More information on breastfeeding and cancer treatment.
Breastfeeding and Cancer Pink Lemonade