Good news for nursing mothers!
Evidence suggests that women who nurse for at least six months after the age of 20 can reduce their breast cancer risk by 25%.
Breast Feeding Factors Lowering the Risk of Breast Cancer
Breastfeeding is a personal decision and depends upon your unique situation. If breastfeeding is an option, there are several reasons why it may protect your breast health:
- Nursing promotes breast cell maturation and stabilizes DNA.
- Nursing 24/7 limits breast cells’ ability to mutate.
- Nursing reduces the number of a woman’s menstrual cycles resulting in lower estrogen levels over her lifetime, thus reducing estrogen exposure.
- Sustained exfoliation of breast tissue during lactation may eliminate cells with DNA damage and mutations.
- Nursing mothers tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow healthier lifestyles (limit smoking and alcohol) while breastfeeding.
Nursing Factors with a Positive Effect on Women’s Overall Health
A Harvard Medical School study found breastfeeding had a positive effect on a woman’s overall health in many ways.
In the optimal group of the Harvard study, most mothers breastfed as recommended for a total of one year and exclusively for six months. The study found breastfeeding may not only help prevent cancer but diabetes and heart disease as well.
Additional studies concur and indicate breastfeeding may also reduce a mother’s risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
Plus, mothers who breastfeed recover from childbirth more quickly. The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, returns the uterus to normal size faster and may reduce postpartum bleeding.
For information on breastfeeding for yourself or a loved one, consider KellyMom and La Leche League International. Their missions are to support and encourage breastfeeding mothers as an essential element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.