Breastfeeding helps women who had cancer

Jan. 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM   |   Comments

MEMPHIS, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- It should be routine to advise women who have survived childhood cancer to breastfeed if they have a child to help protect her health, U.S. researchers say.

Susan Ogg and colleagues from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis says it is estimated that one in every 640 young adults ages 20-39 will be a survivor of childhood cancer -- 80 percent of children and adolescents treated survive.

However, childhood cancer survivors continue to face health challenges such as reproductive difficulties or cancer re-occurrence as a result of the cancer or cancer treatment, Ogg says.

The study published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship finds breastfeeding had a positive influence on bone mineral density, metabolic syndrome risk factors, cardiovascular disease and secondary tumors.

"Alongside advice to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, abstain from smoking, use suitable sun protection, practice safe sex and take part in regular physical activity, women who have survived childhood cancer and are physically able to breastfeed, should be actively encouraged to do so to help protect them against the many lasting effects of cancer treatment," Ogg says in a statement.

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