LETTER: Breast is best for the mother, too

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The Independent Online
From Ms Julie Friedeberger

Sir: Your interviews with people about breast-feeding in public ("Is breast best, even in public?" 26 May) were unfortunately presented in a context of "taste", and failed to take account of the only really important factors in this issue.

It is generally accepted that breast milk is best for babies, and this has always been a good reason for encouraging women to breast-feed, whether at home or in the park. But there is now good evidence to show that breast- feeding is best for women, too. It apparently protects in a variety of ways against breast cancer, an epidemic disease that kills 15,000 women in Britain every year.

Questions of taste - whether it is nice or proper for a woman to "show her boobs" in public - are beside the point. So is the ill-informed disapproval of onlookers, whether male or female. This is a major health issue. Breast-feeding - anywhere a mother wants to do it - should be made easier, not more difficult.

Women deserve to know the facts and to have a real choice in the matter. And they deserve an informed public, too, one that might, in fuller awareness of the facts, stop tutting and staring. In one sense, at least, this is not a personal issue for me: I am 60 and have not had babies. But I have had breast cancer, and of course I want to see awareness raised about it and about every possible means of preventing it.

Yours faithfully,


London, SE3

26 May