Women who breastfeed are aware that they are giving their child a healthy start. But most women are
not aware that: They are also reducing their own risk for breast cancer*.
On the World Breastfeeding Awareness Week [1 st Aug 2019 – 7 th Aug 2019], we highlight the key
findings on “Breastfeeding association in lowering the risk of Breast Cancer”.
Many findings and studies have reported that women who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-
menopausal breast cancer. And, prolonged breastfeeding than the recommended six months, provides
additional protection against breast cancer, suggests Lindsey Wohlford, wellness dietician, American
Institute for Cancer Research*.
American Institute for Cancer Research states that women experience hormonal changes during
lactation, which hinder their menstrual cycle, reducing the exposure of estrogen, which promotes
breast cancer cell growth, in women’s lifetime*.
Along with which, it is suggested that “during pregnancy and breastfeeding, women shed breast
tissue, this shedding enables the removal of cells of potential DNA Damage, thus reducing the women
risk of developing breast cancer.”
Many other studies have suggested the long term health benefits of lactation for mothers, against
ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and type II diabetes*.
Why at least six months of breastfeeding
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Health Organization, It is
considered that exclusive six months breastfeeding could give health benefits to the child. However,
breast milk provides all the essential nutrients and energy to the child during this period of lactation,
to develop and stay healthy*.
However, breastfeeding can be extended beyond six months, as it is not only beneficial to the child
but also benefits women as they receive more protection against breast and ovarian cancer, suggests
Lindsey Wohlford, wellness dietician, American Institute for Cancer Research*.
Many research evidence that women who breastfeed more than 12 months are more than 50% less
likely to develop reproductive cancer.
Breastfeeding and child’s risk of cancer
Breastfeeding not only benefits women’s risk against cancer but also the child’s. American Institute
for Cancer Research, evidence many studies, that breastfeeding could prevent a child from being
overweight or obese in a later lifetime, and this benefits from the risk of developing any cancer, as
obesity puts an individual at higher risk of developing cancer.
However, breastfeeding strengthens the child’s immune system. The women antibodies pass through
the milk to the child, that lower the child’s risk from developing any infectious disease, respiratory
and digestive problems, and even allergies.
* Mya Nelson, “Breastfeeding Protects Moms from Breast Cancer,” American Institue of Cancer
Research, pp. 202-328-7744 x3047.
* “BREASTFEEDING LOWERS YOUR BREAST CANCER RISK,” MD Anderson Cancer
Center, Univ. Texas.
* “World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update
Project Expert Report 2018.,” Am. Institute Cancer Res., no. Diet, nutrition, physical activity,
and breast cancer, 2018.
* J. G. Brun, S. Nilssen, and G. Kvåle, “Breastfeeding, other reproductive factors, and
rheumatoid arthritis. A prospective study,” Rheumatology, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 542–546, 1995.
* M. M. Shams-White et al., “Operationalizing the 2018 World Cancer Research
Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) Cancer Prevention
Recommendations: A Standardized Scoring System,” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 7, p. 1572, 2019.