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The decision to breastfeed can be difficult, and sometimes it’s not a decision at all. Parents who adopt, use surrogates, are separated from their baby, or have certain medical issues are not physically able to breastfeed. Most of the times, when talking about the benefits of breastfeeding, the focus is on the baby. However, research shows us that breastfeeding is actually beneficial for the breastfeeding PARENT as well!
One of the biggest benefits to breastfeeding is that it actually reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
Things to know about the Relationship Between Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding
- According to scientific studies, there is a 4%-14% reduction of breast cancer risk if a woman breastfeeds for a year
- According to scientific studies, there is a 30% reduction of ovarian cancer risk if a woman breastfeeds for a year
- The longer a person breastfeeds, the lower the risk continues to decrease [Some studies show a 90%+ reduction in ovarian cancer after 30+ months breastfeeding.]
Potential reasons why Breastfeeding Reduces The Risk of Cancer
- During pregnancy, you shed breast tissue. This may remove potentially problematic cells
- Most women have fewer menstrual cycles when they are breastfeeding, which lowers exposure to estrogen
- Most women tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow a healthier lifestyle when they are breastfeeding
How Long Should You Breastfeed To Decrease Your Risk?
- The WHO recommends that mothers breastfeed: exclusively for 6 months and then for 2 years, or as long as baby and mother desire.
- The AAP recommends that mothers breastfeed: exclusively for 6 months and then with other complimentary foods up to a year, or longer.
- Nightingales recommends that mothers breastfeed for: The length of time that works for them. Breastfeeding is a choice that is determined for a variety of factors, and so is the length of time that parents choose to breastfeed.
- Around the world: Parents around the world routinely nurse their children until age 3-5. This is uncommon in the United States, but there is nothing wrong with a parent who chooses a longer breastfeeding relationship with their child