Breastfeeding May Lower the Risk of Leukemia in Children

Is liquid gold more valuable than we think it is?

A new study suggests that mothers can possibly lower their babies’ risk of developing childhood leukemia by breastfeeding them.

According to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, babies breastfed for more than 6 months were 19% less likely to be diagnosed with childhood leukemia compared to infants who were breastfed at a shorter period of time or who didn’t nurse at all.

breastfeeding reduces risk for childhood leukemia
PHOTO CREDIT: Medical Daily

The reseachers from the University of Haifa and the Israel Center for Disease Control came up with the conclusion after examining the link between breastfeeding and leukaemia using previous studies which involved 10,292 kids and teens diagnosed with leukemia and 17,517 matched controls who were leukemia-free.

Known as the most common childhood cancer, leukemia or cancer of the blood accounts for 30% of all paediatric cancers. For decades, the incidence of leukemia has risen steadily in the United States and Europe. Many scientists think that the so-called Greaves hypothesis can be responsible for this.

The hypothesis indicates that children become susceptible to leukemia due to prenatal genetic mutation. Cancer starts growing after birth when they are exposed to an “infective agent”.

Scientists believe that if the Greaves hypothesis is right, then breast milk could serve as natural antidote to leukemia.

Although it was not established how breast milk lowers the risk of leukemia, the researchers suggested that breast milk contains “many immunologically active components and anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms that influence the development of an infant’s immune system.”

The researchers also recommended to disseminate information about the potential preventive health benefits of breastfeeding.

“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.”

Previously, a study suggested that babies who were breastfed more earned more in their 30’s because of their higher IQ’s.

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