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Doctors Aren't Promoting Breastfeeding's Cancer-Protection Benefit

MONDAY, Nov. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Few American mothers learn from their health care providers that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed more than 700 mothers. Of the 92 percent who said they'd breastfed, 56 percent said they knew that breastfeeding reduced breast cancer risk before they made the decision to nurse.

However, only 16 percent of those women learned about this link from a health care provider.

"We have a duty as a medical community to ensure our patients have reliable knowledge," said principal investigator Dr. Bhuvana Ramaswamy, of Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Among women who did not breastfeed, 59 percent said knowing about the connection between breastfeeding and breast cancer risk would have affected their decision, according to the study.

The findings are concerning, said Ramaswamy.

Studies have shown a strong correlation between prolonged breastfeeding and reduced risk of an aggressive cancer known as triple negative breast cancer, she and her colleagues said in background notes. They said women should be told that breastfeeding can reduce this risk and improve a mother's health.

"When it comes from a professional, medical information is much more likely to affect people's choices. When it comes to breast cancer specifically, prevention is the best outcome," Ramaswamy said in a university news release.

The findings were published recently in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more on breastfeeding.

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