Two recent studies just emphasized how important breast-feeding can be...for mothers. One study found that women who breast-feed may have more protection against a "particularly vicious type of breast cancer," while another report suggests breast-feeding can have positive implications for women who had gestational diabetes to avoid becoming lifelong diabetics. Prior research names other benefits too--such as decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis estimates that "near-universal breast-feeding in the United States could spare an estimated 5,000 women a breast cancer diagnosis every year and cut nearly 14,000 heart attacks"--a staggering statistic. These most recent studies on the effects of breast-feeding analyzed dozens of studies of nearly 40,000 cancer cases globally. This study was published in the Annals of Oncology and discussed how breast-feeding reduced the risk of hormone receptor negative tumors by up to 20%--significant because this type of breast cancer is known for being very aggressive. 

Dr. Marisa Weiss, senior author on the study, places pregnancy and lactation as important phases in one's breast maturation and life cycle. Interestingly, it is found that lactation triggers important changes in one's milk duct cells, which make the breast more resistant to cancer. Furthermore, women who have gestational diabetes are encouraged to breast-feed because "lactation improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity...improving lipid metabolism" and burning calories and fat that was accumulated during pregnancy. 

Indeed one's body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and lactation, and it is fascinating to discover how these phases connect to one's holistic health!

Source: The New York Times

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