Breast-Feeding May Boost Health of Cancer Survivors

Helps offset late effects of cancer treatment on female childhood cancer survivors

MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Female childhood cancer survivors should be encouraged to breast-feed as a health behavior that is protective against many late effects of cancer treatment, according to a review published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

Susan W. Ogg, R.N., M.S.N., from the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues reviewed literature on lactation outcomes in female childhood cancer survivors and summarized late effects of cancer treatment on women. They presented the health benefits associated with breast-feeding that might help counter the late effects of cancer treatment on women.

The researchers found that lactation is often compromised among female survivors of childhood cancer. Breast-feeding may ameliorate cancer treatment late effects by improving bone density and decreasing risks of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and secondary tumors. Based on these potential benefits, the authors recommend development of interventions to increase breast-feeding among this population.

"Among survivors of childhood cancer whose ability to lactate is intact, breast-feeding should be actively promoted and recommended as a clinically indicated health intervention," the authors write.

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