A recent nurse-led study has found that women who breastfeed for over six months are not as likely to develop early breast cancer when compared to women who do not breastfeed, so long as they were non-smokers.
Emilio Gonzalez-Jimenez PhD and his colleagues at the University of Granada in Spain reviewed the medical records of 504 women. The women were ages 19 through 91 years old. All had been treated for breast cancer at the city’s hospitals.
When the women were compared, Gonzalez-Jimenez found that the women who had not breastfed their children were found to develop breast cancer, on average, ten years earlier than did the breastfeeding moms.
The research team factored in length of breastfeeding, age of breast cancer diagnosis, obesity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and family history of cancer.
The researchers found that, regardless of the patients’ family history of cancer, breastfeeding meant that women who were going to develop breast cancer were going to do so at a later age.
Smoking, the experts warn, countered the benefits of breastfeeding.
The researchers estimate that there are 720,000 cases of breast cancer discovered worldwide each year. This is one-fifth of all cancers. Women under the age of 40 comprise between 17 and 36% of the breast cancer cases.
Dr. Gonzalez-Jimenez and his research team stated that there can be various reasons why breastfeeding seems to delay or prevent breast cancer. They also explain that there are various explanations as to why breastfeeding appears to significantly benefit women’s’ health.
One of the biological theories cited is the presence of hormonal changes that are stimulated by both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The study found that women who breastfed for periods longer than six months showed a gain in years lived. The study found that the breastfeeding women gained an average of ten years in mean age prior to breast cancer diagnosis.
The study concluded that breastfeeding for longer than six months results in numerous health benefits. Not only are the children recipients of these benefits, but so are the mothers. The researchers called breastfeeding a potential ally in the long term fight against tumors of the breast.
The researchers were quick to point out that more study is needed in the area of breastfeeding benefits.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released statistics which show that the proportion of babies being breastfed has risen over the past decade. In 2000 six percent of children in the United States were breastfed. In 2010, the proportion had risen to 71%.
In related news, researchers have also discovered that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more intelligent the child will grow to be. The study, which was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, determined that cognitive development was improved in infants who were breastfed for longer periods of time.
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