Can Breastfeeding Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer

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Welcome to the breast cancer awareness month at Momjunction. This month is a special dedication to all the moms who have to know everything that surrounds the term ‘breast cancer’ – the myth, the reality and access to right information.

More and more women are now falling prey to cancer. Breast cancer forms the majority of types of cancers that are detected in women between the age group of 30 and 45. Heredity and lifestyle choices have been cited to be some of the major reasons for the occurrence of breast cancer. However, there remains a great need to understand breast feeding and cancer risk in detail.

Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer:

The choice of having children is said to greatly affect the possibility of women not falling victim to breast cancer. This is majorly because pregnancy changes the way hormones function inside a woman’s body. While there is every possibility that pregnant woman may be prone to cancer, breast feeding is said to save the life.

[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]

Breast Feeding Reduces The Risk Of Breast Cancer – Myth Or A Reality?

This is not a myth. It is now an accepted and proven fact that women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from breast cancer. This is because of various reasons:

  • Regular breastfeeding leads to lesser number of menstrual cycles. This lowers estrogen levels.
  • Women who nurse their babies, lead a healthier lifestyle. By maintaining wholesome diet and staying away from unhealthy choices such as smoking and alcohol (if previously addicted).
  • Breast cells that create milk are more robust and less likely to turn into cancer cells in the later stages.
  • Women who breastfeed for more than a year are less susceptible to breast cancer.

[ Read: Breastfeeding And Thrush ]

Research Findings On Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer:

Multiple studies have been conducted to understand the impacts of breast feeding on the cancer cells that are likely to attack the breast tissue. Some of the research findings go as follows:

  • Women who have their firstborn before the age of 25 are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Women who have less than 4 children before the age of 25 are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Having more children protects a woman’s body from the cancers triggered due to hormonal production.
  • Women who give birth to the first baby after the age of 25 are less than likely to have breast cancer, as compared to those who never delivered a baby.
  • Breast feeding protects against two vital type of malignant tumors no matter when a woman delivers.
  • In the 995 subjects with breast cancers, almost 75 percent of women were suffering from cancer triggered due to hormonal shifts.

[ Read: Breastfeeding And Diabetes ]

Breastfeeding With Breast Cancer:

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, you need to know about breastfeeding your baby while undergoing treatment. The pointers hold good during the stages of diagnosis and prognosis.

These are:

  • Breastfeeding is said to be safe if you are still undergoing tests for breast cancer post-delivery. The tests usually include mammogram, CAT scan, X-Ray, MRI or biopsy.
  • Nursing should be stopped if you are recommended to undergo radioactive isotope therapy or chemotherapy for treatment.
  • Sometimes you can breastfeed while going through radiation. Remember that breast exposed to radiation is less likely to lactate.
  • If you are taking medications via chemotherapy, it is very important that these medications should be completely out of your system before you decide to breastfeed your baby again.
  • If one of your breast has been removed partially or completely via mastectomy, you can still nurse your baby with your other breast.

[ Read: Flu And Breastfeeding ]

It is always important to start treating breast cancer as soon as it is diagnosed. It does not matter if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Undergoing treatment for cancer becomes a priority. Your doctor may give you the flexibility to decide on postponing the treatment options depending on what stage of cancer you are in.

Talk to your gynecologist, as well with an oncologist, at length to understand more about breast cancer during breastfeeding. Your life is your personal responsibility. Do not be scared of breast cancer.

Have some victorious cancer battles to share? Do not hesitate to do so with our other mommies.

References : 1 , 2

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