National Cancer Institute Says Exercise and Breastfeeding May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
From the United States Lactation Consultant Association:
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a designation made over 25 years ago to spotlight a disease that afflicts one out of ten American women. The United States Lactation Consultant Association applauds efforts to raise breast cancer awareness. Most research efforts to date have focused on early detection and treatment. But there is now evidence that many cases of breast cancer can actually be prevented.
The National Cancer Institute cites two lifestyle factors that may reduce the risk of breast cancer-exercise and breastfeeding. The Susan G Komen foundation notes that breastfeeding appears to lower the risk of both estrogen receptor-positive and estrogen receptor-negative tumors with the strongest protection in premenopausal breast cancers.
A study published in August of this year by the American Association for Cancer Research, concluded that breastfeeding may reduce the incidence of a particularly aggressive form of cancer found predominantly in black women in the United States. Women who give birth to more than one child but do not breastfeed are at increased risk of developing this particular type of cancer. However, the link disappears when women who give birth to multiple children breastfeed. The data suggest that black women may have a higher incidence of this aggressive form of cancer because they tend to have more children and are less likely to breastfeed.
National breastfeeding goals call for an initiation rate of 82 percent by 2020. Recent statistics show that 75 percent of women initiate breastfeeding, but only 58 percent of black women start out breastfeeding, and only 8 percent breastfeed exclusively for six months as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health care organizations. In January of this year, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, issued a Breastfeeding Call to Action, challenging hospitals, health care workers, family members, friends, employers, and businesses to support breastfeeding and remove obstacles that make breastfeeding difficult for many women. Benjamin also identified the need for more cultural diversity among professional breastfeeding consultants.
Just as breast cancer awareness and a fight for a cure is everyone's responsibility, creating a culture that supports breastfeeding is the responsibility of every person of every age, gender, and race. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine recommends that all pregnant and new mothers have access to professional breastfeeding assistance.
The Surgeon General recommends that mothers have access to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), the only credentialed health care professionals with the skills needed to support breastfeeding. IBCLCs provide prenatal education and timely assistance in hospitals, health clinics, and WIC agencies. For information about becoming an IBCLC or to locate an IBCLC in your area, contact USLCA at www.uslca.org.
October 26, 2011