Women who breastfeed their children have been found to be at substantially less risk of developing uterus cancer, according to researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia.
Dr Susan Jordan, head of the Cancer Causes and Care research group at QIMR Berghofer said that women who breastfeed at least one child have a lower risk of contracting cancer of the uterus.
“We found that the longer women breast-fed each child, the more their risk of uterine cancer reduced, up until nine months when the reduction in risk plateaued,” Jordan said.
The research into the link between breastfeeding and this form of cancer was the largest ever undertaken, with the team at QIMR Berghofer analysing data collected from over 26,000 Australian women, with over 9,000 of those having uterine cancer.
“We looked at the total amount of time these women had spent breastfeeding over the course of their lives,” Jordan said.
“We found that women who had ever breastfed had an 11 percent lower risk of developing uterine cancer than women who had never breastfed.”
Within the results was also an interesting correlation between the duration of the breastfeeding and subsequent lowering of the likelihood of contracting uterus cancer, with women who breastfed for three to six months having a 7 percent less risk of the cancer, and women who breastfed for six to nine months having their risk reduced by 11 percent.
“In other words, a woman who breastfed two children for nine months each had around a 22 percent lower risk of uterus cancer than a woman who had never breastfed her children,” Jordan said
However, not every woman is able to breastfeed, and Jordan said there are other things that women can do to lower the risk of endometrial, or uterus cancer.
“Having a baby reduces your risk, similarly taking the oral contraceptive pill can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer; but probably the best thing to do is make sure you have a healthy lifestyle,” Jordan said.
“Eat well, avoid putting on weight, and exercise regularly, these are all key things to reduce the risk of uterus cancer.”