October is breast cancer awareness month - but did you know that breastfeeding can actually reduce your risk of breast cancer? Did you know that some parents go on to breastfeed after breast cancer diagnoses? We've rounded up some of the best, most interesting breastfeeding & breast cancer facts in honor of the month:
Breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast cancer.
Why? There are a couple of theories. One is that "women who breastfeed have fewer menstrual cycles throughout their lives, and therefore less exposure to estrogen, which has been shown to fuel some types of breast cancers."
"Another theory: Breastfeeding makes breast cells more resistant to mutations that can cause cancer."
Everything adds up.
We tell families over and over that breastfeeding counts - even in small amounts. "In a study by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, researchers found that for every 12 months a woman breastfed, her risk of breast cancer decreased by 4.3%. It also found the 12-month time period could be with either one child or as the total for several children."
Source: MD Anderson
You might not have to stop.
Many times families fear they have to stop breastfeeding if they are undergoing treatment. Always check with your physician and resources like the Infant Risk Center. "You can still nurse if you are having radiation therapy, but having had radiation will limit milk production in the affected breast."
Always ask for help!
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are specially trained and have experience in assisting breastfeeding families in all sorts of situations. Don't be afraid to reach out for help!