Breastfeeding reduces ovarian cancer risk - research

Researchers say breastfeeding can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.Photo / Thinkstock
Researchers say breastfeeding can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.Photo / Thinkstock

Mothers who breastfeed their babies are up to 91 per cent less likely to develop ovarian cancer, according to a new study.

While the benefits of breastfeeding for babies are well documented, the positives for mothers have not been as recognised.

However, a recent study which will be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition next month, found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 per cent less likely to develop an ovarian tumour than those who breastfed for less than seven months, Medical Daily reported.

And the risk of developing ovarian cancer for mothers who had three children and breastfed for more than 31 months was cut by up to 91 per cent.

The study, which was done by researchers at Curtin University in Australia, compared 493 patients who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer with 472 women who were at the hospital for unrelated conditions.

Each woman was asked how many children they had and how long they had breastfed each one.

The results showed that the longer the women breastfed, the higher the benefits were.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death for women with only 20 per cent of tumours detected early.

Because symptoms - such as abdominal pain, feeling full quickly and frequent trips to the bathroom - are subtle and often caused by other conditions, ovarian cancer can be hard to spot.

Breastfeeding is thought to prevent ovarian cancer because it can delay ovulation.

Increased ovulation heightens the risk of cell mutation, which can cause the disease.

- www.nzherald.co.nz

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