91 Percent? We’Ll Take It!
Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby, and it has a magnitude of benefits for your little one -- but did you know that it has health benefits for Mama, too? You may have heard that breastfeeding can lower Mom’s breast cancer risk, but recent research has discovered that it may significantly lower her ovarian cancer risk as well.
Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer.” It often develops while the woman is totally unaware and symptomless, and is not often discovered until it has spread. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women, and the fifth deadliest. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, feeling full quicker than normal and an increased restroom frequency -- symptoms that aren’t exclusive to ovarian cancer and may be overlooked.
The reduced risk
The research was conducted at Curtin University in Australia. Researchers studied 493 ovarian cancer patients and compared them with 472 patients who were hospitalized for other reasons. They queried each on the number of pregnancies and the duration of breastfeeding for each woman.
The results revealed that women who breastfed a child for at least 13 months had a 63 percent reduction in ovarian cancer risk when compared with women who breastfed for less than seven months. More babies? More benefit. Moms who had at least three children and breastfed for a total of 31 months or more had a 91 percent reduction in ovarian cancer risk.
Researchers aren’t totally sure why, but speculate that it’s because breastfeeding women often enjoy fewer ovulations -- and periods -- than their non-breastfeeding peers. Some moms remain ovulation-free the entire time they breastfeed, while others return to their regular cycle sooner, but most do have a few extra months at a minimum of being period-free.
So nurse away, Mama -- while you’re providing your child with the perfect food, you’re giving your own health a boost, too.