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Breastfeeding can Keep Breast Cancer at Bay
 Author : Dr. Rupinder Sekhon , Senior Consultant in the unit of Urogynae Oncology in the Surgical Oncology Department, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institue, New Delhi.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women across the globe. These days, we are seeing a steady increase in the numbers in India. The disease, which is curable if detected in early stages, has become the biggest health scare for a woman. But most women do not realise that not only is breast cancer treatable, it can also be kept at bay with the help of certain measures.

A nutritious diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and al¬cohol, and breastfeeding are some factors that cut down the risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding is not only highly beneficial to the child due to its nourishment and long-term health advantages; it is also for the betterment of the mother.

Though nursing is mainly encouraged for the health of the child, it must also be pro¬moted for mothers as they also gain long-term health benefits from it. Apart from aiding in losing pre-pregnancy weight, it is understood to reduce the risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and hypertension in women later in life.

Research Confirms

Ample research has found a link between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of breast cancer. Whether lactation plays a direct or an indirect role in lowering the risk of breast cancer has not been determined yet, but there is concrete evidence that it does play a modest part in protecting a woman from the potentially-fatal disease. Studies covering thousands of women have been conducted in various countries and all of them have revealed the con¬nection. In fact, it has been seen that the threat decreases for every year of nursing and after every birth. Not only this, studies have also shown that women who nurse for a longer duration of time are more protected from breast can¬cer.

Recent research also shows that nursing leads to a lower incidence of breast cancer among those who have a family history of breast cancer. We strongly advise women whose mother or a sister has had breast cancer to breastfeed their children defi¬nitely as studies have shown that those who have nursed their babies had sig-nificantly lower risk of developing breast cancer before menopause than those who have not.