Friday, October 20, 2006

Breast Cancer Awareness month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I'd like to take a moment to write about Breastfeeding.

It's no secret that breastfeeding is the very best thing you can do for your baby. For further information on how great it is for babies, mothers, and society, see here, here, and here. It's even great for your pocketbook!

What you may not know is that breastfeeding (along with pregnancy) can have a significant impact on a woman's risk for developing breast cancer. If you'd like to view the details of studies that have shown this to be true, here's a good link for you.

One study showed that your personal risk for breast cancer can be decreased by over 4% for each year of breastfeeding. It's also been shown that each birth can diminish the risk for breast cancer by 7%. Doing the math, if everyone had 14 kids and breastfed them for the 1 year minimum recommended by the FDA and the AAP, breast cancer could be essentially obliterated.

I know, I know... who in their right mind would have 14 kids? How about if we all breastfed each child for the minimum recommendation of the WHO: 2 years. Seven children would do it. Still too much for you? How about 5? The longer you breastfed each child, the less children you'd need for the same amount of risk reduction.

Update: I know, I'm not really be fair with the numbers. Remember, this is statistics, not like making change. I'm sure there would still be some breast cancer occuring even if we all went around having huge litters of children. My point is, there's a real, tangible reduction of risk for you personally if you can and do breastfeed.

All that aside, you don't need to have your own football team, or nurse your only child until he hits legal drinking age to reap the benefits of breastfeedings protective properties against breast cancer. Every little bit helps.

To read a more serious presentation of the impact breastfeeding can have on your breast cancer risks, go here, here, here, and here.

If pregnancy is in your future, please consider all the benefits of breastfeeding, to both your and your child. Reduce your risks of disease as well as your child's in an irreplaceable way that is affordable and fulfilling.

If pregnancy isn't in your future, please consider all the benefits of breastfeeding to the mothers and children around you. Support your friends and loved ones in breastfeeding--it's best for all of us!