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Breastfeeding Cuts Leukemia Risk

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 11:17

Infants who breast-feed are less likely to develop leukemia, according to a paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In the largest study on the topic to date, researchers looked at 1,744 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 1,879 matched control subjects, aged 1 to 14 years, and 456 children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 539 matched control subjects, aged 1 to 17 years.

Children who breast-fed for at least one month enjoyed a 21% reduced risk of both ALL & AML. A dose-response relationship was also evident - the longer a child breast-fed, the lower his or her odds of developing leukemia. Specifically, children who breast-fed for over 6 months showed a 30% reduced risk. Experts speculate that breast-feeding wards off cancer by boosting the immune system.

Shu XO, Linet MS, Steinbuch M, Wen WO, Buckley JD, Neglia JP, et. alo.   Breast-feeding and risk of childhood acute leukemia   J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 (Oct 20);   91 (20):   1765-1772