|health & fitness|
Breastfeeding Cuts Breast Cancer Risk
||The conclusions of
a recent (July 18. 2002) and widely publicized breast cancer study are most probably wrong. Breastfeeding has been shown to be of manifold, substantial and far-reaching benefits to the infant. Now it seems that it also has some protective effect against breast cancer for the mother, as claimed by the authors of the following new study. But this may be valid in a very limited sense only (more below).|
However, the authors conclusion that, "The lack of, or short lifetime duration of breastfeeding typical of women in developed countries makes a major contribution to the high incidence of breast cancer in these countries", is obviously wrong, for two reasons.
The first reason is that women from undeveloped countries who emigrate to developed countries acquire the same high breast cancer rates as the women of these developed countries - regardless of how many children they had, and how long they breast fed their children. This is a well documented fact, and effectively invalidates the authors conclusions.
The second reason is that ALL cancer rates in the undeveloped countries are substantially, and in most cases, dramatically lower than in the developed countries (see
CANCER RATE COMPARISON in these pages). This points effectively to a far broader, and totally different cause of breast cancer and cancer in general.
And as pointed out in these pages, there can only be four causes. Genes, genetic resistance, the widespread chemical pollution typical of the developed nations, or the massive deficiencies of over 60 trace elements in the daily food of the developed nations, as caused by the modern chemical agriculture of these nations.
Only 5% of all incidences of cancer have been shown to be of genetic origin; all others are acquired. And even this has a nutritional factor, which remains, as yet, generally unknown.
Genetic resistance is ruled out completely by the acquisition by immigrant women of the high cancer rate of their host countries, as well as by the extremely wide genetic diversity of countries with low cancer rates (3/4 of the world). The latter has has been mentioned here first, and is now fully recognized in the biomedical sciences.
The third reason, chemical pollution, is effectively ruled out by Japan - a highly developed industrial nation which, due to its very small size and high industrial output (the 3rd largest economy in the world), is even more polluted than all other developed nations, yet their cancer rates - including breast cancer - are dramatically lower than those of all other developed nations.
This leaves only the typical daily food as the cause of the dramatic differences in cancer rates between the undeveloped and the developed nations. And a major clue is again provided by the Japanese. Their millennia-old traditional daily nutrition includes one or more servings of seafood - which is one of the few readily available foods which still contains (like all of unspoiled nature) the complete natural spectrum of the 72+ nutritional trace elements.
Indeed, there is a very revealing graduation. The poorest countries - those whose farmers cannot afford tractors, fuel and chemical fertilizers - have the lowest cancer rates. They still rely on the age-old traditional agriculture which returns all life-wastes to the soil - and with them, all of the 72+ naturally and originally present trace elements - in a perpetual cycle from soil to produce, to people, and back to the soil again. And cancer rates go up with the adoption of chemical agriculture.
Moreover, there are 5 entirely different, and widely separated ethnic groups on this Earth (as mentioned in these pages) whose people are disease free all of their lives, and this includes cancer. It is unknown among them.
They all have one thing in common though; they all practice a traditional agriculture which returns all the 72+ trace elements to the soil, and thus, maintains them in their daily nutrition in perpetuity.
Finally, there may be some reduction in the incidence of breast cancer due to breastfeeding - but this can only be established by comparing women in the same country - with the same general nutrition - and after eliminating such individual dietary differences as the amount of seafood routinely consumed by individual women. But this is not at all clear in the description of this study.
The conclusion of this writer, therefore, is - include at least one serving of seafood in your daily nutrition, and you don't have to worry about breast cancer - whether you have children or not, or how long you breastfeed them, although the longer the better for the child, and perhaps for you too.
Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding:
A collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50.302 women with breast cancer and 96.973 women without the disease. The Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer*
Although childbearing is known to protect against breast cancer, whether or not breastfeeding contributes to this protective effect is unclear.
Individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries that included information on breastfeeding patterns and other aspects of childbearing were collected, checked, and analysed centrally, for 50.302 women with invasive breast cancer and 96.973 controls. Estimates of the relative risk for breast cancer associated with breastfeeding in parous women were obtained after stratification by fine divisions of age, parity, and women's ages when their first child was born, as well as by study and menopausal status.
Women with breast cancer had, on average, fewer births than did controls (2·2 vs 2·6). Furthermore, fewer parous women with cancer than parous controls had ever breastfed (71% vs 79%), and their average lifetime duration of breastfeeding was shorter (9·8 vs 15·6 months). The relative risk of breast cancer decreased by 4·3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding in addition to a decrease of 7·0% for each birth. The size of the decline in the relative risk of breast cancer associated with breastfeeding did not differ significantly for women in developed and developing countries, and did not vary significantly by age, menopausal status, ethnic origin, the number of births a woman had, her age when her first child was born, or any of nine other personal characteristics examined. It is estimated that the cumulative incidence of breast cancer in developed countries would be reduced by more than half, from 6·3 to 2·7 per 100 women by age 70, if women had the average number of births and lifetime duration of breastfeeding that had been prevalent in developing countries until recently. Breastfeeding could account for almost two-thirds of this estimated reduction in breast cancer incidence.
The longer women breast feed the more they are protected against breast cancer. The lack of or short lifetime duration of breastfeeding typical of women in developed countries makes a major contribution to the high incidence of breast cancer in these countries.
[Source: Lancet 2002; 360: 187-95 - July 20 2002].
[Correspondence to: Prof Valerie Beral, Cancer Research UK, Epidemiology Unit, Gibson Building, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE, UK]
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