The breastfeeding community wonders why national breast cancer campaigns continue to omit breastfeeding as a strategy that will help prevent breast cancer. I suggest we make a significant change this year by promoting breastfeeding as a critical weapon in our fight against cancer.
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October
is
Breast
Cancer awareness month. Each year more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and over 40,000 die from the disease.
  1. The most common cancer in women, excluding some kinds of skin cancers, no matter your race or ethnicity.
  2. The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.
  3. The 2nd most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Alaskan Native women.

In order to help spotlight this crisis as a public health emergency, Elenore Pred, Susan Claymon and Linda Reyes founded Breast Cancer Action. Denoted by the pink looped ribbon launched in 2002, the "Think Before You Pink" campaign has become one of the most publicly successful cancer campaigns in the country. Surprisingly, breastfeeding is not part of October's breast cancer awareness month; even though studies have proven that breastfeeding your baby is an important intervention that can help prevent this deadly disease.

Research has also shown that mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of both pre and postmenopausal cancer, and breastfeeding longer than six months can provide additional protection. Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual period; this reduces a woman's lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth. In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue; this shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage, thus helping to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer.

Lactation professionals along with the breastfeeding community never cease to wonder why the national breast cancer campaign continues to omit breastfeeding as an urgent strategy that will help prevent breast cancer. I suggest we make a significant change this year by promoting breastfeeding as a critical weapon in our fight against breast cancer.

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