A study has found that women who breastfeed their babies for six months may lower their  risk of developing endometrial cancer by almost 11 per cent. 

 

The research analysed data from 17 studies, and found that women who had breastfed their children were significantly less likely than women who didn't breastfeed to be diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

 

Interestingly, longer periods of breastfeeding seemed to lower the risk even more. However, there was not much extra benefit past nine months of breastfeeding.

 

"Cancer of the uterus is becoming more common, and we need to try to prevent it,' said lead author of the study, Susan Jordan. 

 

"The more women know about the things they can do to reduce their risks of future cancer diagnoses, the better," she added.

 

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"Although this piece of evidence by itself may not convince women to breastfeed, it contributes to the overall picture of health gains that can come from breastfeeding."

 

Endometrial cancer is a cancer that arises from the endometrium, the lining of the womb. It is the result of the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.

 

The first sign is usually vaginal bleeding not associated with a period, but other symptoms include pain with urination or sexual intercourse, or pelvic pain.

 

Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women from high-income countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, America, and Ireland, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

 

The researchers analysed data from a number of studies participating in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium, which looked at over 26,000 women who had borne children. This included about 9,000 women with endometrial cancer.

 

 

And while the study doesn't exactly prove that breastfeeding helps to protect against endometrial cancer, it's plausible.

 

The authors write that the growth of this type of cancer is stimulated by oestrogen, which is suppressed during breastfeeding.

 

"The message is not only relevant for women making decisions about breastfeeding but also for society to understand the benefits, so we can support women to breastfeed for reasonably long periods of time," Susan said to Reuters Health. 

 

"However, it's not always possible for women to breastfeed, so it should also be noted that just because a woman chooses not to, or can't breastfeed; it doesn't mean she'll go on to develop cancer."

 

What do you reckon, mums?

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