The 111 Benefits of Breastfeeding—Part 5

I was fed formula when I was a baby, and I turned out just fine, if I do say so myself. My brothers and sisters were all formula fed, too, and nothing went wrong with them either.
I planned to carry on the tradition of formula feeding when I was pregnant with my first child. I figured nine months of carrying around my baby was enough of a sacrifice – I wanted my body back, and I was intimidated by the rules and horror stories I heard about breastfeeding.
My friends would tell me they couldn’t eat certain things before they breastfed their babies, and they complained about their cracked, painful nipples. I was sure breastfeeding wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to be stared at by people when I attempted to breastfeed my baby in public.
My mind was made up, until one day when I was surfing the internet, and I found the website That’s when it hit me – my feelings didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was giving my baby the best, healthiest start I could. If you’re on the fence about breastfeeding or you’ve decided not to do it, let me share with you some of the things I learned that changed my mind.

Part 5: Cancer and Heart Disease Protection

  • Protect your daughter’s baby feeders and potentially her life. Women who were breastfed as babies have a lower risk of getting breast cancer as adults. So many women will already get breast cancer—we need to help reduce that number any way we can.
  • I don’t want my daughter to become a cancer statistic; she’s so much more than that. Your baby’s overall cancer risk is decreased by breastfeeding for at least six months, according to this study.
  • My baby should get to decide what lifestyle choices will damage her DNA. I shouldn’t do that for her. My baby may make decisions when she’s older that will have negative consequences for her health, and that’s her right to do that. In the meantime, I want to give her a healthy start by lessening any DNA damage that occurs, which breastfeeding may do.
  • Hodgkin’s disease is a horrible thing for a child to go through. No child should have to suffer from cancer, and in a perfect world they wouldn’t. Until science can find ways to save everyone from this awful disease, I will stick to breastfeeding, which has been shown to lower the risk.
  • My baby’s best line of defense against leukemia and lymphoma comes from my breasts. Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk of both leukemia and lymphoma, and that’s well worth any embarrassment I might feel breastfeeding in public.
  • A neuroblastoma diagnosis is something I never want my baby to face. Babies should be learning to crawl and walk, not fighting cancer. Breastfed babies have a smaller risk of getting neuroblastoma.
  • You’d be nuts not to breastfeed knowing it can protect your son’s testicles. If protecting your son’s family jewels matter to you, you’ll want to breastfeed. It may reduce the risk of testicular cancer.
  • Breast milk puts the skids on tumor growth. Stopping malignant tumor growth is just what the doctor ordered. This study showed glycoprotein in breast milk may reduce tumor growth.
  • Hypertension runs in my family, and it makes my blood pressure rise just thinking my child will be affected. The fact that small children can suffer from pre-hypertension is mind boggling. I think of that as something that strikes people in middle age. If breastfeeding can keep my baby’s blood pressure down, it’s worth the effort.
  • My new favorite magic trick is warding off cardiovascular disease using only my nipples. Cardiovascular disease is scary stuff. One minute, you’re fine; the next, you could be toes up in the morgue. The damage occurs over the course of decades, so I’ll take all the steps I can along the way to protect my baby.
  • I worry about my cholesterol all the time. I shouldn’t have to worry about my baby’s. Cholesterol appears to be lower among breastfed babies when they become adults, which is another reason for me to breastfeed.
Camille Clare, M.D.: Climbing Breastfeeding Stumbling Blocks

Check back tomorrow for Part 6 of “The 111 Benefits of Breastfeeding.” Or catch up on Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here

 From Mom Loves Best

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