Breast­feed­ing has ben­e­fits for mom, too

The Hamilton Spectator - - Health -

Most women know breast­feed­ing is good for their ba­bies’ health. But doc­tors and mid­wives rarely tell moms-to-be that it’s also good for nurs­ing moth­ers. Nurs­ing moth­ers re­duce their rel­a­tive risk of breast can­cer by 4.3 per cent for ev­ery 12 months they breast­feed, in ad­di­tion to a rel­a­tive de­crease of 7 per cent for each birth. Breast­feed­ing is par­tic­u­larly pro­tec­tive against some of the most ag­gres­sive tu­mours, called hor­mone re­cep­tor-neg­a­tive or triple-neg­a­tive tu­mours, which are more com­mon among African-Amer­i­can women, stud­ies show. It also low­ers the risk by one-third for women who are prone to can­cer be­cause of an in­her­ited BRCA1 mu­ta­tion. Women who breast­feed are also less likely to de­velop ovar­ian can­cer, Type 2 di­a­betes and rheuma­toid arthri­tis and may have im­proved car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. Yet only 16 per cent — or fewer than 1 in 5 women sur­veyed — said their doc­tors had told them that breast­feed­ing is good for mother as well as baby, ac­cord­ing to a new study pub­lished in Breast­feed­ing Medicine. “We have an ounce of pre­ven­tion that could save lives,” said Dr. Bhu­vaneswari Ra­maswamy, the pa­per’s se­nior author and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of med­i­cal on­col­ogy at Ohio State Univer­sity in Colum­bus. “But are we fully ed­u­cat­ing the moth­ers when they make this dif­fi­cult choice? Be­cause it is not an easy choice.” The study sur­veyed 724 women aged 18-50 who had given birth to at least one child. The vast ma­jor­ity of them had breast­fed. Just more than half knew be­fore they gave birth that breast­feed­ing re­duced the risk of breast can­cer, and more than a third of those said the in­for­ma­tion in­flu­enced their de­ci­sion to breast­feed. But only 120 of the women said that their health care providers had in­formed them about the im­pli­ca­tions for their own long-term health. Most of those who knew about the health ad­van­tages to nurs­ing moms had gleaned the in­for­ma­tion from pop­u­lar me­dia or the in­ter­net. And these women tended to breast­feed for much longer — 13 months on av­er­age — than women who did not know about the health im­pli­ca­tions, who breast­fed for only nine months on av­er­age. Sci­en­tists do not en­tirely un­der­stand why lac­ta­tion helps pre­vent breast can­cer but say the breasts un­dergo changes dur­ing preg­nancy as they de­velop more milk ducts in prepa­ra­tion for breast­feed­ing. The breasts even­tu­ally go through a process called in­vo­lu­tion that re­turns them to their pre-preg­nancy state and in­volves mas­sive cell death and tis­sue re­mod­elling. That tran­si­tion can oc­cur slowly through grad­ual wean­ing, or abruptly if there is no breast­feed­ing or only brief breast­feed­ing. When it hap­pens abruptly, it cre­ates an in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tion that is con­ducive to can­cer, Ra­maswamy said. Breast­feed­ing also ap­pears to re­set the body’s me­tab­o­lism af­ter preg­nancy, im­prov­ing glu­cose me­tab­o­lism and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity, burn­ing calo­ries and mo­bi­liz­ing stores of fat that have ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing preg­nancy, which may ex­plain why women who breast­fed have lower rates of di­a­betes and other prob­lems.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.