Breast feeding for over six months can slash a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer, new research has found.
Survival rates of 630 women who had surgery for primary breast cancer between 1988 and 1992 have been analysed by experts at the University of Linköping in Sweden. They found that women who had at least one pregnancy and breastfed for up to six months were more likely to fight the disease.
The findings, published in Breastfeeding Medicine, follows on from proof that breastfeeding aids preventing tumours because this process prevents oestrogen production.
However, the researchers note that women must nurse newborn babies straight away and for as long as possible to boost their chances of surviving cancer.
“This study confirms that the long-term maternal health benefits of breastfeeding are not only preventative in nature, but that it also has the capacity to reduce the severity of breast cancer,” Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, said.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), too many mothers are stopping breastfeeding too early, as seen in a new report looking into why “breast is the best”.
The organisation claims 2013 saw eight out of 10 newborns breastfed, an improvement from 2.6 in 10 in 2012. However, only half of these tots were given natural milk at six months, even after being recommended to do so. More worryingly, less than a third (30.7 per cent) of babies are still breastfed at 12 months, which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing along with proper food after six months.
Breast milk has great benefits for infants, such as fighting off the likes of ear infections, stomach bugs and allergies, as well as reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
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Breast feeding for over six months reduces breast cancer risk