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Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding

Stand up for Prevention.  Prevention is the New Pink. breast cancer ribbon 2014

Breastfeeding is one of the most highly cost-effective, health-protective behaviors we can do to reduce our breast cancer risk – -right up there with exercise.  Given that fact, it’s simply stunning that the human milk/breastfeeding cause is not at the top of the national priority list or included in more messages from breast cancer orgs!

At Best for Babes, we have been devoted to putting the Protection Literally Under Our Noses front-and-center in the breast cancer prevention dialogue.  Millions of U.S. moms every year do NOT breastfeed as planned because of inaccurate information and poor societal support, the Breastfeeding Booby Traps®, while the breast cancer epidemic — especially among premenopausal women — escalates.  One recent study estimates 5000 women per year would dodge diagnosis if more moms were supported to breastfeed to the recommended mark. This has to stop!

 It’s time to put more funding and focus on PREVENTION, PROTECTION and THRIVING –more miles on the front-end of prevention, so maybe we don’t have to put so many on the back-end of the cure.   It’s time to be sure  more moms know about breastfeeding’s protective effect against breast cancer, and to fund the Mother of All Causes to help them be able to achieve their personal goals!

Please read these articles from Best for Babes CoFounder and Breast Cancer Thriver, Danielle Rigg: My Breast Cancer: Why I Won’t Race For the Cure  Breast Cancer Orgs: Please Include the Protection Under Our Noses Prevention is the New Pink, and The Cracks in the Foundation and The First Food.

Get the Facts: 

  • Breastfeeding is one of two “lifestyle factors” that is associated with “convincing decreased risk” of breast cancer for all women (family history or not) — exercise is the other.(1)
  • Breastfeeding is associated with up to a 28% decrease in risk of developing breast cancer at any age (pre- or post-menopausal) for women without a family history of the disease, who breastfed for 12 months or longer. (2)
  • For women with a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding is associated with 59% reduced risk  of developing premenopausal breast cancer –that’s more than half! (3)
  • For every 12 months of breastfeeding, a woman can lower her breast cancer risk by 4.3% This is cumulative, so that a mother who has two children and breastfeeds each for 2 years can realize a 17.2% reduction! (4) Some scientists speculate that this is one reason why, in developed countries with lower rates and duration of breastfeeding (like the U.S.), we also see higher rates of breast cancer.
  • Four Breasts for the Price of Two: One study suggests that your baby girl’s risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime is lowered by 26%-31% if she is breastfed! (5)
  • Babies are born “hot” with estrogen from their mother (i.e, enlarged genitals) and breastfeeding may have a “cooling” effect that facilitates normal breast-bud development in infancy, reduces the exposure to excessive hormones early in life, and “may have long-term health benefits for hormone-dependent diseases.” Growing evidence suggests that not breastfeeding or using soy-based formulas explains why baby girls have an increased risk of hormone-fueled (hormone-positive) breast cancer later in life. (6)
  • Breastfeeding’s associated protection against being obese and overweight — major risk factors in adult diseases — buys your baby girl or boy extra protection against developing certain cancers as an adult. (7)

What you can do to help us Stand Up for Prevention! 

1. Send a link to this page to your local or national breast cancer organization(s) and ask that they include a simple message, like the one below, in their printed and online materials on “How to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk.”  Send us an email @ info@bestforbabes.org containing the name of the organization and their contact info once you have done so. Best for Babes will recognize and list them on our Breast Cancer Alliance & Resources page as being a trusted resource for breast cancer prevention.

We want to see breast cancer organizations use encouraging language that empowers and gently educates their members and followers & includes resources for  breastfeeding beyond breast cancer,  donor milk and how to nurture skin-to-skin and supplement at the breast/chest (see suggested message below).  

Suggested Message:  “Along with a healthy diet, a toxin-free environment and regular exercise, breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast cancer.  If you are planning on starting a family or are currently expecting, the (name of breast cancer) organization strongly recommends that you get the facts about how to get off to a good start with breastfeeding, and arm yourself with the resources to overcome any challenges and Beat the Booby traps®.  The longer you breastfeed, the better for you and your baby, but any breastfeeding is better than none!  In the absence of breastfeeding, pumped or donated human milk is the next best substitute. “

2. Sign up or donate to participants in our We’ve Got Your Back, Babe! Nationwide Fitness Challenge this October and help Best for Babes and our partners Breastfeeding USA, and United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) put more sweat on prevention! Or join our year round fitness for the cause program: Team Best for Babes!

3. Take the Burpees for Booby Traps Viral Challenge and help us raise fast awareness so moms don’t have to fight the booby traps any more!

4. Make a straight up donation  – $5, $10, $20 any amount enables our tiny nonprofit to continue to do the groundbreaking work we do.  Click here to donate;

5. Shop our Store!

References:

1. World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective Washington DC: AICR 2007 http://www.dietandcancerreport.com

2. http://archive.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/brfouttp.htmf

3. Stuebe, Alison M., Willet, Walter C., et. al. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009; 169(15):1364-1371. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/15/1364

4. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Lancet. 2002 Jul 20; 360: 187-95 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12133652

5.  Freudenheim J.L., et al. Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology. 1994 May; 5(3): 324-31.

6. Zung A, et al. Breast development in the first 2 years of life: an association with soy-based infant formulas. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2008 Feb;46(2):191-5; Setchell KD, et al. Isoflavone content of infant formulas and the metabolic fate of these phytoestrogens in early life. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Dec;68(6 Suppl):1453S-1461S.

7. World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective Washington DC: AICR 2007 http://www.dietandcancerreport.com