Friday, January 25, 2013

The Health Benefits Just Keep Rising: A new study finds that breastfeeding may cut mothers’ risk of ovarian cancer by up to 91%

The benefits for breastfeeding a baby have long been obvious, but a recent study has found that those benefits also affect mom in a new way. The new study conducted by researchers at Curtin University in Australia found that breastfeeding can cut the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 91 percent.

These findings, which will be published in February in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop an ovarian tumor compared to women who breastfed for less than seven months. The risk further diminished – to 91 percent - in women who had three or more children and breastfed for over 31 months.

Researchers believe the more ovulations a woman has, the greater the risk of a cancer-causing cell mutation. Breastfeeding, they believe, can help prevent this because it can delay ovulation.

This is not the first study done concerning this issue. A similar study conducted earlier between 2006 and 2008 in southern China also concluded that “prolonged lactation is associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer in…Chinese women.”

Why is this research so important? The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012, about 22,280 U.S. women received a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and more than half of those cases will prove fatal. According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, about one in 71 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

So what’s the good news? 93 percent of women who are diagnosed in the early stages survive five years. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance also lists childbearing and breastfeeding as one of the factors that can help to decrease a women’s risk in developing cancer.

Although breastfeeding will not completely erase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, as there are other factors to consider, the findings in these studies prove that breastfeeding benefits more than just babies.  

To better understand your risks for ovarian cancer, including family history and lifestyle, you should contact your physician. For more valuable information on the risks, preventions, causes, and treatments for ovarian cancer, visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s website.


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