Breastfeeding Reduces Cancer Rates Due To Prolactin? How Did I Miss This?!

Nearly two years ago researchers published a study explaining the reason why all of us crunchy moms brag that breastfeeding reduces breast cancer rates. And it’s not just a retrospective cohort study or two anymore.  I always assumed the breastfeeding and cancer connection had something to do with having less periods and less period hormones. I just found an old article in Science Daily though that heralds prolactin as a major player. I figured if I missed it in 2010, perhaps some of you ladies did too. So, here’s the scoop…

In February of 2010, Science Daily reported that researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center announced in the journal Cancer Research, that they figured out that prolactin (a hormone responsible for milk production) blocks an oncogene that makes breast cancer more aggressive.

The research team investigated this prolactin phenomenon in several different breast cancer cell lines, in mice and in human breast cancer samples. The relationship between prolactin and the oncogene held up in all three of these. They also stressed that receptors for prolactin are present on a majority of breast cancers, not just the most aggressive types of breast cancer.

They intend to use this knowledge to find new treatments for breast cancer. I wish that they’d also use these findings to scream from the rooftops how breastfeeding isn’t just healthier for our children, but also for the moms. Maybe if breast pads and nursing bras were a little more pink…

Hey, maybe we should start a new campaign where women paint their breasts pink before snapping breastfeeding pictures. Maybe then this information would be stressed to women at their OB appointments. Maybe if all of our nursing pictures featured boobs painted pink this would get the kind of attention it deserves.

But seriously, is there no end to the benefits of breastfeeding?

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  1. Pingback: Seriously? Breastfeeding? A waste of time? — Everything Birth's Blog on Midwifery, Attachment Parenting, Cloth Diapers and More

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