Cut Your Baby's Risk Of Leukemia In Half By Doing This

Photo: Nina Buday / Shutterstock
Cut Your Baby's Risk Of Leukemia In Half By Breastfeeding
Health And Wellness

There are many arguments for and against breastfeeding, but it all comes down to mothers wanting what's best for their baby. And thanks to more research, we have information to make pros and cons for each side.

We know that breast milk enhances the little one's immune system, reduces the risk of obesity, and about 21 other things

But now, reports say that breastfeeding slashes the risk of your baby having c a cancer that hurts the body's ability to fight infection.

Leukemia is responsible for over one-third of all childhood cancers in those under the age of 15. Yes, it's true.

There are two types of leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML only encompasses 17 percent of all childhood leukemia cases.

The best way to fight leukemia is to take preventative measures early on in the child's life.

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A 2015 report published in JAMA Pediatrics gathered multiple studies on breastfeeding and leukemia, and found a trend. Multiple studies found that it lowers the baby's risk of getting cancer.

One instance found that breastfeeding for six months or more could lower a baby's risk of childhood leukemia by 19 percent. A meta-analysis of 15 studies found that, between mothers who breastfeed and mothers who don't, the breastfed babies had an 11 percent lower risk of childhood leukemia, according to the report. 

A 2018 study confirmed that there are beneficial protective effects of breastfeeding for the baby against leukemia. They found that the babies who were breastfed for at least 7-9 months had a better protective immune system against leukemia.

Breast milk promotes specific protein activity that sparks the death of tumor cells. So, breast milk promotes the proteins that can destroy tumor cells, which is beneficial in preventing cancers like leukemia in children.

This study concluded that there was a significant difference between those who were breastfed and those who were not.

But they also found that pure milk powder might increase the probability of a child having leukemia. This indication shows that those who were breastfed had a more mature immune system that can fight off diseases than those who were formula-fed, which cannot give the same protective benefits that breast milk can.

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So, how does breast milk do this? According to researchers, the milk has components that help develop the baby's immune system and has anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms. This leads to the baby getting stem cells and good microbes from mom.

Breastmilk is a great preventative for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal infections.

"The many potential preventive health benefits of breastfeeding should also be communicated openly to the general public, not only to mothers, so breastfeeding can be more socially accepted and facilitated," write the authors of the 2015 study.

"In addition, more high-quality studies are needed to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying this association between breastfeeding and lower childhood leukemia morbidity."

Social acceptance for breastfeeding still needs to be improved, since it's still hard for mothers to find places to breastfeed. But this is great news and will hopefully help change views on breastfeeding in the near future.

RELATED: I Breastfed Another Woman's Baby — And Have Zero Regrets

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in June 2016 and was updated with the latest information.

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Nicole Weaver is a love and entertainment writer. Find her on Twitter for more.