The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months. And adhering to these guidelines may incur benefits not only for babies, but also for mothers. According to a new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, breastfeeding for six months may lower a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.
As The Washington Post reports, researchers analyzed data 26,000 mothers, sourced from 17 international studies participating in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium. 9,000 of these women had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. The study found that women who had breastfed their children were 11 percent less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who had not. Breastfeeding for longer reduced cancer risks, though breastfeeding past the age of six months did not seem to afford extra protections.
Even after accounting for endometrial cancer risk factors like age, oral contraceptive use, and menopausal status, researchers found a connection between breastfeeding and the likelihood of developing endometrial cancer.
The study is far from conclusive, and further research is needed to establish a definitive link. But the authors of the study posit that breastfeeding lowers cancer risks because it suppresses estrogen — a hormone that can stimulate the growth of endometrial cancer.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.