Countless studies have commended the benefits of breastfeeding, and a new research published in JAMA Pediatrics is here to add another one: apparently, breastfeeding can also be linked to lower risk of childhood leukemia.
Researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel discovered that breastfeeding for six months or more is associated with a 19 percent lower risk that the baby will develop leukemia during childhood, compared to babies breast-fed for a shorter time, or not at all.
Leukemia occurs in roughly one in three cancers among children and teenagers, making it the most common cancer in this demographic. Not only that, but leukemia’s incidence rate increases with approximately 0.9 percent each year and it is the cancer taking the deadliest toll among children. The medical community knows very little about what causes the disease.
The newest study results showed that several biological factors in breast milk might be responsible for lowering the risk, such as anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms and elements that help boost the immune system.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization are currently recommending mothers to feed their babies in the first six months of live exclusively with breast milk. Researchers involved in the study strongly support these recommendations, but they believe more needs to be done for breastfeeding education.
Breastfeeding has too many benefits for mothers not to practice it, so much so that it’s considered a “low-cost, highly-accessible public health measure.” Moreover, finding that it can help lower the risk for cancer should encourage mothers even more.
Leading researcher expressed her hopes that breastfeeding will receive more attention from policy makers, who will launch initiatives of educating doctors and medical staff on how to assist mothers with breastfeeding.
A lot of mothers consider this practice to be frowned upon by the society, especially when the baby needs feeding in public. This is slowly but steadily changing, as more breastfeeding awareness campaigns are being launched all over the world.
Breastfeeding has also proved to have a positive effect on the mother, lowering her risk of developing endometrial (uterine) breast, and ovarian cancers. Breast milk has many properties that need further research.
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