Science News

Breast Feeding Can Reduce your Cancer Risk

Sat, 20th Jul 2002

Part of the show Science of Left Handedness - Chris McManus

Breast cancer affects 39,000 women per year in the UK and kills 1/3 of them. A study published in the Lancet yesterday looked at 47 separate studies of 50,000 women with breast cancer and 100,000 without breast cancer. The researchers have found that for every year a woman breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer later in life reduces by 4.3%. If women have 6 children or more and breastfed each one for 2 years, the risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 falls from 6.3/100 to 2.7/100. The reduction in risk occurs partly due to the breastfeeding and to a lesser extent (perhaps 30%) due to having more children. 70% of mothers in the UK start off breastfeeding, but this drops to 43% at 6 weeks and only 20% between 6 months and 1 year. It should also be remembered that breast is certainly best as it provides the baby with initial immunity to infections, the milk is pre-warmed, sterile (unless the mother has a milk-transmissible infection), and ready on tap whenever the baby is hungry !
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