Here comes another addition to the long list of benefits of breastfeeding: it may reduce your risk for breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, according to breastcancer.org. A whopping $6 billion is raised annually for breast cancer research, and 32,335,080,000 steps have been taken by participants in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day since 2003 to raise awareness.
You probably wouldn’t have been able to guess that number, but would you have guessed that breastfeeding can actually reduce your risk for breast cancer? Although the reasons are still a big vague, several studies have shown promising results. Here’s a summary of some that are worth noting, from an article by Fit Pregnancy.
“A large-scale analysis of nearly 150,000 women published in The Lancet in 2002 found that for every 12 months of breastfeeding (either with one child or spread over multiple children), the risk of breast cancer decreased by 4.3 percent, when compared to women who didn't breastfeed at all.”
Archives of Internal Medicine
“Then a 2009 study of more than 60,000 women published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women with a family history of breast cancer reduced their risk of getting the disease before menopause by nearly 60 percent if they breastfed.”
Journal of National Cancer Institute
“A study published this year by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women of African ancestry have an especially high risk of developing the aggressive and hard-to-treat forms of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-negative and triple-negative—and the risk actually goes up when a woman gives birth—but breastfeeding negates this risk.”
Annals of Oncology
“Finally, an international, collaborative study of almost 37,000 breast cancer cases published in the Annals of Oncology in October found a 20 percent reduction in risk of developing hormone-receptor negative breast cancer for women who breastfed. But study authors noted this hard-to-treat subtype of breast cancer is especially prevalent among populations of women who have risk factors that make them least likely to breastfeed, such as being obese, having multiple, early pregnancies, or being of African-American or Sub-Saharan African descent, and that more needs to be done to encourage women to breastfeed.”
If you aren’t able to breastfeed, don’t fret. Just because you don’t (or didn’t) breastfeed doesn’t mean you’ll be getting breast cancer. There are so many other factors that play into it.
However, keep in mind that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the costs. As mentioned in this article by Fit Pregnancy, the family saves money on milk, mommy and baby form a stronger relationship, and baby grows healthy and strong. Furthermore, a lifestyle that includes breastfeeding often also includes eating healthier and cutting the bad stuff (like smoking and alcohol).