Prolonged breastfeeding halves risk of cancer

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The high rate of breast cancer in Britain could be sub-stantially reduced if women breastfed their babies for an extra six months.

The high rate of breast cancer in Britain could be sub-stantially reduced if women breastfed their babies for an extra six months.

Data from 30 countries and 150,000 women shows conclusively that the longer women breastfeed their infants, the more they are protected from the disease.

Women who have a large family are also much less likely to get breast cancer than women who remain childless, according to results published in the Lancet today.

The findings explain why breast cancer rates have been so much lower in developing countries, where women typically have six children and breastfeed each of them for up to two years.

If British women had similar-sized families and prolonged breastfeeding, then their risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 would fall by more than a half.

Instead of 6.3 cases per 100 women over 70, the disease would affect just 2.7 per cent, according to the scientists from Cancer Research UK's epidemiology unit at Oxford University. But they acknowledge that such a change would be "completely unrealistic" for today's working women.

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