04. Breastfeed if possible
Breastfeeding causes changes in the body’s chemical balance, which may provide protection from breast cancer. It lowers pH levels and reduces the production of estrogen, which are both linked to lower breast cancer risk. Milk production may also help to “flush out” cancer-causing substances in breast tissue.
The more time a woman breastfeeds over her lifetime, the less her risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that compared to women who have never breastfed, women who breastfeed for a total of three years have a 10-20% reduction in breast cancer risk. If you breastfeed for less time, you won’t get as much benefit, but your risk will still be lower compared to women who have never breastfed. The research also suggests that breastfeeding is especially protective for women who have a family history of breast cancer.
What you can do:
If you are planning to have a family, educate yourself about the many health benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother. Look into the resources that are available to help you breastfeed successfully. If you are currently breastfeeding your baby, try to continue for as long as possible – ideally for at least several months.
Breastfeeding and breast cancer
Breastfeeding information and support