Breast Feeding May Shield Cancer

Breast Feeding May Shield Cancer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Breast-fed infants may have up to a 30 percent lower risk of developing some forms of childhood leukemia when compared to babies who are bottle-fed, according to a new study.

The findings, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, differ from some earlier, smaller studies that found no statistically significant support for the idea that breast feeding protected against leukemia.

The new study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, found that the longer babies were breast-fed, the more they were protected.

For babies breast-fed for at least one month, the leukemia risk was reduced by 21 percent, while the risk was reduced by up to 30 percent for infants breast-fed for six months or longer, the study found.

The conclusions are based on interviews with 2,200 mothers whose children had been diagnosed with acute leukemia. Matching interviews were conducted with mothers of other children of similar age, race and geographic location.

"We have long known of breast feeding's health benefits in terms of protecting children from infection," said Dr. Les Robison, the principal researcher in the University of Minnesota study. "Now we have evidence to suggest its immune-stimulating effects may provide another significant advantage--protection against cancer."

Robison acknowledged in a statement that further studies are needed before the conclusions can be confirmed.

His study in JNCI noted that "other large and more detailed investigations" are needed "to eliminate the possibility that the findings are due to potential forms of bias or chance.

It also noted that a 1988 German study involving 1,000 leukemia cases and a Dutch study this year involving 492 cases found that breast feeding for six months gave a "nonsignificantly reduced risk of leukemia."

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended breast feeding as way of protecting infants from infection because breast milk contains substances that combat disease. A recent study also suggested that the nutrition in breast milk can increase the IQ of babies by about five percent.




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This section was created with love to honor Jakob Detwiler, by his mommy Alisa Detwiler.
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