Does breastfeeding increase or decrease breast cancer risk?

Breastfeeding can cause changes in your breasts but helps decrease breast cancer. In the below article, we help you to clear the doubt regarding breastfeeding and breast cancer.
View All Images A woman breastfeeding her baby
Breastfeeding can often cause rashes. Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Published: 20 Sep 2023, 06:27 pm IST
  • 196

Breastfeeding, the process of producing and providing breast milk to infants, holds immense significance in a child’s development and overall well-being. Yes, it leads to a lot of changes in your breasts, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to health problems. Did you know about one in eight people develop some type of breast cancer in their life? Of course, breastfeeding or pumping can lead to changes in your breast, but does it increase your risk of developing cancer? Well, let’s find out!

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and baby

Not only does breast milk contain antibodies that strengthen an infant’s immune system, but it also plays a crucial role in promoting healthy gut microbiota. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion and absorption of nutrients while protecting against harmful pathogens. Apart from these physical advantages, lactation fosters strong emotional bond between mother and the baby. The act of breastfeeding creates moments of intimacy, nurturing touch, and eye contact that promote bonding and emotional security.

Breastfeeding and breast cancer
Breastfeeding can help reduce breast cancer risk. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Furthermore, the hormonal exchange during nursing triggers oxytocin release in both mother and baby, enhancing feelings of love, trust, and attachment. A large number of women take the help of a lactation expert who guides them throughout their breastfeeding journey. But, some women will also hesitate due to the myths surrounding lactation.

Also Read: 8 common breastfeeding myths you should stop believing

Lactation doesn’t increase break cancer risk, it decreases it!

It is a common misconception that lactation can increase the risk of malignancy in women. However, recent studies have shown that not only is this belief unfounded, but breastfeeding actually has a protective effect against certain types of cancer. One such example is breast cancer itself. Numerous research studies have consistently found that breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing breast cancer in women, especially if they breastfeed for a longer duration. Breastfeeding for 2 years reduces the risk of breast cancer by 1 percent, found a study published in the journal Cancer Medicine.

Furthermore, lactation has been found to offer protection against ovarian and endometrial cancers as well. The act of breastfeeding helps suppress ovulation by inhibiting the release of estrogen, which in turn reduces the exposure to hormones linked to these cancers. Additionally, it has been suggested that lactation helps shed cells from the breast ducts and ovaries more rapidly, thereby minimising the potential for mutant cells to develop and form tumours.

breast cancer risk
Breastfeeding doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

The last word

Lactation can have significant health benefits for both mothers and infants. By dispelling misconceptions surrounding lactation and malignancy, we can empower women with knowledge and encourage them to make informed decisions about their own health. Breastfeeding not only nourishes babies but also provides long-term protective effects against various forms of cancer for mothers. So, breastfeeding is nature’s gift for mothers to ward off problems such as cancer, and it is a boon for the child as well. So, you shouldn’t panic and speak to the doctor in case they have any queries.

  • 196
Next Story