Mamas on Bedrest: How Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent Breast Cancer-REALLY??

October 14th, 2015

nursing infantHello Mamas!!

I am sure that we are all well aware by now of the benefits of breastfeeding for infants. Human breastmilk is the perfect food for infants because,

  • It has the proper amount of nutrients and adapts to the nutrition needs of the infantIt is easily digested,
  • It requires no preparation or special storage,
  • It is is always the right temperature (when directly from the breast).
  • Babies that are breastfed are less likely to have ear infections
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and asthma and if they do have allergies and asthma the conditions tend to be less severe
  • Breastfed babies have a reduced incidence of developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Breastfed children have a lower incidence of obesity

With all of these great benefits for children, you’d think that we here in the US would be jumping through all sorts of hoops to make sure that ALL mamas breastfeed their babies. There has been a lot of information distributed and I think that more mamas are breastfeeding their infants-at least for the first few months of life. However, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states,

“In 2011, 79% of newborn infants started to breastfeed. Yet breastfeeding did not continue for as long as recommended. Of infants born in 2011, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months and 27% at 12 months.”

So while we are seeing improvement, we still have a ways to go to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of approximately 82% of infants being exclusively breastfed at birth. Yet, would these numbers change if mamas knew the benefits of breastfeeding on their health, in particular on their risks of developing breast cancer?

Rachel King, a health education specialist in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center reports:

“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.”

Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to 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,” King adds.

Breastfeeding also can help lower your ovarian cancer risk by preventing ovulation. And the less you ovulate, the less exposure to estrogen and abnormal ovarian cells that could become cancer.

So EXACTLY how can mamas lower their breast (and ovarian) cancer risks by breastfeeding?

  1. Have their babies before age 30
  2. Breastfeed for at least 6 months
  3. Get education and support from a lactation consultant
  4. Take Breastfeeding classes
  5. Get the support of family, friends and employers
  6. Ask employers for quiet, private places to pump

Breastfeeding is not chic nor a trend. Breastfeeding is the natural way that human babies were intended to be fed. Now we know that breastfeeding is beneficial not only to babies but also protective against breast cancer for mamas. What other incentives do we need? Let’s do this, Mamas!

October is Breast cancer awareness month. Mamas, If you have questions about breast cancer, have a family history of breast cancer or want to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, start by breastfeeding your infant for at least 6 months. For more information, speak with your health care provider, consult with a lactation consultant and check out the information below (This is just a sample of what is available and what was cited in this post. For sure there is more information available!!). As always, you can post your questions and comments below for a ready reply!

References:

DrWeil.com

MD Anderson Center

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-US Breastfeeding Report Card 2014

 

  

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