Women who have survived childhood cancer should be advised to breastfeed their own children, as it could offset some of the side effects of cancer treatment.
Susan Ogg and colleagues from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, have suggested that women who have survived childhood cancer should be advised to breastfeed if they can, in order to offset some of the negative health effects of their earlier cancer treatment.
It is estimated that one in every 640 young adults aged 20-39 will be a survivor of childhood cancer - 80 percent of children and adolescents treated with modern cancer therapy now survive.
However, these survivors continue to face significant health challenges such as reproductive difficulties or cancer re-occurrence as a result of the cancer or cancer treatment.he researchers looked at whether breastfeeding might result in the same benefits to women who have survived childhood cancer.
They examined previous studies on the impact of breastfeeding and on the long-term health effects of surviving childhood cancer.
They found breastfeeding potentially influenced positively bone mineral density, metabolic syndrome risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and secondary cancers.
"Alongside advice to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, abstain from smoking, use suitable sun protection, practice safe sex and take part in regular physical activity, women who have survived childhood cancer and are physically able to breastfeed, should be actively encouraged to do so to help protect them against the many lasting effects of cancer treatment," they concluded.
The study is published online in Springer's Journal of Cancer Survivorship.