Breast Cancer
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Breastfeeding Diminishes the Risk of Breast Cancer

Adapted from Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Many medical authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding.

Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants with a perfect mix of vitamins, minerals, protein and fat that a baby needs to grow. In addition, breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and other illnesses in the early stages of life.

Breastfeeding also lowers risk of osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.

Women with breast cancer who breastfed their babies are significantly less at risk of the disease recurring or killing them.

In the study, performed by Kaiser Permanente, researchers analyzed the data of 1,636 women with breast cancer. Overall, a history of breastfeeding reduced the chance of the cancer recurring by 30 percent, and the risk of dying dropped by 28 percent.

The reduction of cancer risk was proportional to the cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding. The more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk for cancer.

“Breastfeeding may increase the maturation of ductal cells in the breast, making them less susceptible to carcinogens or facilitate the excretion of carcinogens, and lead to slower growing tumors.” said study co-author Bette Caan.

These tumors are less likely to spread to other parts of the body and are often treatable with drugs such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.

October 2015

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