A new study suggests, breastfeeding for 3 months is associated with reduced ovarian cancer risk.

Breastfeeding Benefits and Recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusivly for up to six months of age and combined with solid foods thereafter.

According to WHO, only 38 percent of infants across the world receive breast milk for their first six months of life. 

The recommendation is designed to save lives and protect against infectious diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, diseases of the respiratory tract (asthma) and metabolic diseases (such as obesity). 

According to the data, more than 20 million babies are born each year at a low weight (under 2.5 kg) and are at higher risk for developmental delay and disease.The advantage of breastfeeding is not only medical. 

Comparative analysis concluded that breastfeeding reduces infant hospitalizations in childhood, increases intelligence, and increases the fertility and income of the infant in adult life. Therefore, if all infants were to be breastfed for at least a full-year, that alone is expected to amount to more than $ 300 billion increase in world income.

Breastfeeding and Cancer
Ovarian Cancer

Breastfeeding and Cancer

As for mothers, breastfeeding is a significant protective factor against breast cancer, and there is scientific evidence that it may also protect against ovarian cancer. 

The protective mechanism of breastfeeding in this context is not fully understood, but is probably related, among other things, to the delay in post-natal ovulation that limits exposure to growth hormones such as estrogen, known as a long-term risk factor for malignant tumors such as breast and ovarian cancer.

In a meta-analysis published in 2015, which analyzed dozens of studies by researchers from research centers in India, Norway, and the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk of breast cancer was 7% for less than 6 months, 9% for 6-12 Months, and 26% of breastfeeding for 12 months or more, compared to non-nursing at all.

Breast Cancer

Previous studies suggest that, each year of breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer by 6 percent, and epidemiologists calculated that an increase in breastfeeding could reduce breast cancer mortality and save 20,000 women a year.

Ovarian Cancer

Previous studies on the subject established that breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, the effects of age and breastfeeding duration have not been examined until now. The current case-control study examined breastfeeding factors among women in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York from 2003 to 2008. 

The researchers found that compared to never breastfeeding, breastfeeding for at least 3 months is associated with a 30% reduction of ovarian cancer risk. 

The risk reduction was found to last for more than 30 years. The study also indicates that an earlier age at first breastfeedingis associated with increased protection from ovarian cancer.

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/donormilk_infants/en/
  2. Victora, Cesar G., et al. "Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect." The Lancet 387.10017 (2016): 475-490.
  3. Chowdhury, Ranadip, et al. "Breastfeeding and maternal health outcomes: a systematic review and meta‐analysis." Acta Paediatrica 104 (2015): 96-113.

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