Women could reduce their breast cancer risk if they turned the clock back and nurtured their babies just the way they did about a century ago.
A huge study, which collected data involving 150,000 women, clearly supported the fact that multiparity and breastfeeding can drastically cut breast cancer risk. The longer the duration of breast-feeding the greater was the protection against the dreaded cancer!
AdvertisementIf women from the developed countries produced half a dozen children and breast fed each for a period of two years - as was the norm all over the world, including Europe —their chances of developing breast cancer by age 70 fell from 6.3 percent to 2.7 percent. Even if they breast fed each of their children for an extra six months it reduced the chances of cancer by 5 percent each year!
However scientists do concede that this requirement to revert back to the older way of life is not practically suited to the demands and stress of the current lifestyle, which requires women to follow a career.
Currently, British women have just two children, on an average, and they are breast fed for about two to three months. If each of these children could be breast fed for another six months, a thousand cancer cases could be reduced. Currently, only one in five British mothers breast-feed their babies beyond six months.
The study has helped to understand the lower breast cancer rates in developing countries where breast feeding the child is the norm. Western women have greater chances of developing breast cancer compared to the developing countries where the frequency ranges between 1 to 2 percent. This, sadly, is increasing as the developing countries are increasingly emulating the western lifestyle.
There is no scientific explanation as to how breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancer although reproductive behavior and female hormones have been implicated.
Breastfeeding has always been known to benefit babies but it is now clear it includes health benefits for moms as well. It is hoped that this piece of research will prompt more women to move away from the bottle-feeding culture and to breast feed their babies. It is also expected to motivate those who already breastfeed their babies to do so for longer periods of time.