Breastfeeding may lower cancer risk

Researchers at Michigan State University Extension recently comparing studies focused on the correlation between breastfeeding and later developing breast cancer found that women who breastfed their children were at a lower risk for developing breast cancer.

When all the data was compiled together, researchers discovered that for each year that a woman breastfed, her risk for developing breast cancer decreased by 4.3 percent. Factors such as age, living conditions, menopausal status and genetics were all taken into consideration when the data was analyzed.

With 77 percent of mothers in the United States breastfeeding their infants, it is encouraging to know that it has health benefits for the mother as well as the child. Another study that was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggested that, if women followed the recommendation of breastfeeding for a full year, there would be 5,000 fewer cases of breast cancer.

Another exciting finding that has emerged from these types of studies is that breastfeeding is most protective against aggressive forms of breast cancer, such as triple negative, basal-like and BRCA-1. While the exact connection is still unclear, researchers believe that it may be a result of the changes in breast tissue and the decrease in total menstrual cycles that a woman has in her lifetime as a result of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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