Currently, breast cancer is the most common tumor in women. Its incidence throughout the world exceeds 20%, being in Spain one of the main causes of death in women aged between 35 and 64 years. However, the appearance of this cancer usually occurs before the age of 40.
Due to the high percentage of breast cancer cases in the world, prevention has become one of the main objectives for research.
Many studies have been carried out in order to assess the probability of developing breast cancer after childbirth and the period of breastfeeding. The truth is that there are no conclusive results that serve to clarify the role played by hormones, breastfeeding and pregnancy in the development of breast cancer, since there are many contradictions between the studies and, in addition, the nature of this cancer it is still very complex.
Currently, research has focused on the benefits of breastfeeding with respect to the probability that women have a tumor in one of the breasts.
Likewise, there are factors of breastfeeding that can explain the benefits of breastfeeding and its protective nature. These factors are the reduction of estrogens and the elimination of carcinogens through the breast during the period of breastfeeding.
Recent studies show that one of the causes that may explain the increase in breast cancer in recent years may be the low birth rate. There are data that show that at each birth the risk of suffering from a breast tumor decreases by 7%, which in turn leads to a period of breastfeeding. Some studies confirm that if this period lasts for 12 months, the risk of developing breast cancer is reduced by 4%.
WHAT IS THE LATEST RESEARCH ON THIS TOPIC?
A study on breastfeeding and breast cancer risk was conducted at the University of North Carolina. The sample of women studied was more than 60,000 women, analyzing a previous study whose data was based on a sample of more than 100,000 women from 14 states in North America.
One of the most relevant conclusions of this study is that the probability of developing breast cancer is reduced by almost 60% in those women with a family history who decide to breastfeed their children for several months.
Another study carried out in our country, more specifically in the province of Granada, reveals that there is a direct relationship between breastfeeding for several months and a reduction in the risk of breast cancer . In addition, it points out that there is a possibility of halving breast cancer cases if women decide to breastfeed their children for longer periods of time (at least one year).
ON WHAT ARE THESE INVESTIGATIONS BASED TO INDICATE THESE CONCLUSIONS?
Despite the lack of consensus among professionals dedicated to this field of research, there is no doubt about the benefits of breastfeeding and pregnancy in reducing the level of estrogens and modifying breasts.
Estrogen levels are closely related to breast cancer because estrogens increase the growth of breast cells and if a woman is exposed to this hormone for a long period of time, she is more likely to develop breast cancer Than the woman who hasn’t been exposed so long.
With regard to pregnancy , during this period the number of menstrual cycles is reduced , which acts as a protective factor for women. It seems that if a woman becomes pregnant before the age of 30 in the future, she will be less likely to suffer a breast tumor than a woman who has become pregnant after the age of 30.
Likewise, pregnancy is linked to breastfeeding, which, as we have seen throughout this article, is proclaimed a protective factor in those cases in which women decide to breastfeed their children and, also, during periods of prolonged time , always exceeding 12 months .
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING?
The benefits of breastfeeding are very numerous and should be known to all those women who have doubts about breastfeeding their baby or not.
1. Children who are breastfed are less likely to get infections or illnesses.
2. Breast milk contains components necessary for babies that also facilitate digestion.
3. Breastfeeding reduces the amount of blood lost after delivery and makes it easier for the uterus to heal earlier and return to its normal size.
4. If the period of breastfeeding is prolonged in time and exceeds 12 months, the probability of suffering from ovarian cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis is reduced .
5. Premature infants are protected from gastrointestinal diseases after receiving breast milk.
These are just some of the benefits that breastfeeding has on women and babies. However, it seems that nowadays more women are refusing to breastfeed their children.
In conclusion, research is focused on steps women can take to avoid breast cancer. Following the latest findings on the protective factor acquired by breastfeeding , the reasons why women should not refuse to experience that very rewarding and necessary period between a mother and her baby are further increased.
Although there is still no solid consensus among researchers, it is becoming increasingly clear that breast cancer can be significantly reduced if women breastfeed and extend this period to 12 months or even longer.