NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – We’ve known for years that breastfeeding is good for babies.
Now CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says doctors are working to make sure women know that breastfeeding is good for their health too.
Kylee Dawson made the decision to breastfeed her son Noah.
“Really, the biggest reason was all the benefits for the baby,” she said.
That’s why most new moms breastfeed. But many aren’t aware that breastfeeding for at least six months is good for them, too. It greatly reduces their risk for breast cancer.
“What is the best way to improve mortality from cancer? Prevention,” said Dr. Bhuvana Ramaswamy of the Solove Research Institute. She’s working to arm women with the knowledge they need to protect both their own health and the health of their babies.
She led a study at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center to gauge their knowledge and learned that nearly 60 percent of moms surveyed had heard of the link of between breastfeeding and cancer risk reduction.
Unfortunately, only 16 percent of those women got that information from a healthcare provider.
“Are we making sure that our patients, our mothers when they come to you as patients, are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding to them before they make their decisions?” Ramaswamy asked.
Sixty percent of women who did not breastfeed said having this knowledge would have influenced their decision.
This is particularly important for African-American women who are less likely to breastfeed, but are much more likely to carry a gene mutation predisposing them to triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive and deadly form of the diseased.
“Even in that cohort of patients, the carriers of that mutation, when they breastfed, prolonged breastfeeding, they reduced the risk of developing triple negative breast cancer by 32 percent,” Ramaswamy said.
With a family history of breast cancer, Kylee is now even more confident in her decision.
“That’s like a huge just relief, mentally, that oh, I’m doing something that will help me be around for my kids,” she said.
Not all new moms are able to breastfeed, so researchers are working to determine exactly how breastfeeding biologically reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer so they can develop methods to extend the benefits to all moms.
Meanwhile, every healthcare provider should be telling moms-to-be of the benefits of breastfeeding.