Does Breastfeeding Reduce Mom’s Risk of Cancer?
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, research suggesting that breastfeeding may actually decrease the mother’s risk of breast cancer has caught our attention. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, sheds light on why this is true and other benefits of breastfeeding.
Is the research true?
Nurse Rose: Yes, many lactation experts say that a large body of research suggest that breastfeeding really can reduce the mother’s risk of breast cancer. In-fact, some studies suggest that breastfeeding cuts the risk of some aggressive breast cancers by up to 20 percent, compared with women who do not breastfeed.
Why might breastfeeding help reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Nurse Rose: Breastfeeding changes the breast on the cellular level and reduces menstruation, which lowers estrogen levels – both of which may decrease the risk of cancer. The risk of breast cancer has also been shown to decrease with the length of time that the mother breastfeeds and how many pregnancies she’s had. This may be because new moms tend to eat better and take better care of their health.
What are the other benefits of breastfeeding?
Nurse Rose: Reducing your breast cancer risk isn’t the only reason to breastfeed your child. Breastfeeding offers a host of health benefits for the baby:
- Right balance of nutrients
- Stronger immune system
- Lower risk of disease like diabetes, obesity and asthma
- Closer mother-baby bond
Do you have advice for women who are unable to breastfeed?
Nurse Rose: Some women may choose not to or be unable to breastfeed due to work circumstances, medical conditions or difficulties with latching. If you are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons, your pediatrician can help you choose from one of a number of formulas that are made with extra nutrients for your baby.
If you want to breastfeed but are having trouble with latching try these tips:
Rose Melendez, RN
Head of Emergency Department
Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.
Need Breastfeeding Support?
Find a breastfeeding support group or meet with a Certified Lactation Consultant.