Breastfeeding wallops ovarian cancer into submission, slashing the mother’s risk of the disease by nearly two-thirds, says a finding.
Ovarian cancer is known as the ‘silent killer’ because symptoms for many sufferers, such as feeling bloated, are non-specific and remains undiagnosed until the fairly advanced stages.
Australian researchers conducted a study involving 493 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and compared them with 472 healthy volunteers of similar age. Each was asked how many children they had and for how long they breastfed each one, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.
The results showed those who breastfed a child for at least 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop a tumour than those who did so for less than seven months.
Mothers who had three children and breastfed for a total of 31 months or more were found to cut their chances of ovarian tumours by 91 percent. This was compared to those feeding naturally for a total of under 10 months.
More than 6,000 patients in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, and the illness accounts for about five per cent of cancer deaths in women.
Breastfeeding is thought to help as it delays ovulation, when eggs are released and the ovaries are exposed to high levels of oestrogen-rich fluid. Some researchers believe a higher number of ovulations raises the risk of mutant cells forming, which can trigger the disease.