ZocdocAnswersDoes breastfeeding reduce my chance of developing breast cancer?

Question

Does breastfeeding reduce my chance of developing breast cancer?

Does it increase my chance? What are the other benefits of breastfeeding? I am 8 months pregnant and trying to get ready.

Answer

You are quite right that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Several large studies have shown that breastfeeding, if carried out for at least 1-2 years, can lower breast cancer risk. Although most women in the United States rarely breastfeed for this long, it is possible that the lower rates of breast cancer in poorer countries where longer periods of breastfeeding are more common are partly related to this fact. The other benefits of breastfeeding for the mother including potential reductions in the risk of other types of cancers, such as ovarian and uterine cancer. Furthermore, breastfeeding mothers have been shown in some studies to return to their pre-pregnancy weight more easily than women who do not breastfeed. Additionally, there are multiple benefits of breastfeeding for the baby. The unique nutrient profile of breastfeeding is ideally suited for the nutrition and growth of your baby, and the antibodies and other immune molecules in the breastmilk helps to prevent infections in your child. Furthermore, breastfeeding encourages bonding between mother and child. For any questions or concerns about breastfeeding and preparing for it, you should talk with your OB GYN doctor who will be happy to give you some pointers.

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