World Breastfeeding Week 2018 - Breastfeeding health benefits

It shouldn't be the case that by sharing information about breastfeeding I feel like I am scaremongering those that formula feed. That is not my intention, and I don't think information about breastfeeding should be hidden to protect us from feeling guilty. We shouldn't feel guilty if we make informed choices for the best of our baby and family and Ourselves. I know that is easier said than done and I'm sure I will feel guilty ten times today about things I have or haven't done for my son. I'm just saying if would be nice to drop some (or all!) of that guilt and talk about choices freely. 

So, onto the scaremongering. I mean information! 

1. Breastfeeding mothers have fewer occurrences of cancer:

There is a study, first carried out in 1995 and redrawn in 2010 that shows the effect of breastmilk on cancer cells. 

A substance found in breast milk can kill cancer cells, reveal studies carried out by researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg.

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

There is also information about the lowering of the risk of breast cancer in particular in women that breastfeed on the page:

Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. There is less benefit for women who breastfeed for less than a year, which is more typical for women living in countries such as the United States. There are several reasons why breastfeeding protects breast health:

  • making milk 24/7 limits breast cells' ability to misbehave
  • most women have fewer menstrual cycles when they're breastfeeding (added to the 9 missed periods during pregnancy) resulting in lower estrogen levels
  • many women tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow healthier lifestyles (limit smoking and alcohol use) while breastfeeding

2. In the WHO guidelines for formula advertising regulations, they specify that breastfeeding should be the standard and anything else is a deviation from norm that should be carefully considered and supported by health professionals or risk affecting the health of babies and mothers. 

No breast-milk substitute, not even the most sophisticated and nutritionally balanced formula, can begin to offer the numerous unique health advantages that breast milk provides for babies. Nor can artificial feeding do more than approximate the act of breastfeeding, in physiological and emotional significance, for babies and mothers alike. And no matter how appropriate infant formula may be from a nutritional standpoint, when infants are not breastfed or are breastfed only partially, feeding with formula remains a deviation from the biological norm for virtually all infants.

3.  An american study shows strong correlation between breastfeeding and reduction in many childhood and adult illness' and helath problems.

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 per cent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.

Excluding type 2 diabetes (because of insufficient data), we conducted a cost analysis for all pediatric diseases for which the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported risk ratios that favored breastfeeding: necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, gastroenteritis, hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, sudden infant death syndrome, childhood asthma, childhood leukemia, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and childhood obesity. 

See for a comprehensive list of benefits and position statements from health authorities.