I find this article interesting in the face of the recent removal of DHA and ALA in formula.
Breast-feeding may cut risk of aggressive cancer
Fred Hutchinson study finds lower rate of 'triple negative' tumors for women who nurse
Last updated August 24, 2008 10:42 p.m. PT
By TOM PAULSON
Science has proved that mothers and babies benefit from breast-feeding in all sorts of ways, and now researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have shown that this practice can reduce the risk of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.
"It's a form more common among younger women and African-American women," said Amanda Phipps, a scientist in the public health division of the Seattle cancer center and lead author of a report published Monday in the journal Cancer. "We wanted to find out what puts women at risk for this."
The aggressive cancer type is called "triple negative" breast cancer because the tumor doesn't respond to a critical regulatory protein known as "HER2" or two key hormones, estrogen and progestin, which also are fundamental to many hormone-based treatments for breast cancer.
"That's why we can't use hormonal treatments on these tumors," Phipps said.
Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive cancer estimated to be involved in anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent of all breast cancers, she said. Little is known about why some women are at higher risk of developing this form of cancer.
Phipps and her colleagues at Fred Hutchinson examined two groups of women from 55 to 79 years old with and without a diagnosis of breast cancer. They compared 1,476 women without the cancer with 1,140 women with several different forms of breast cancer including the "triple negative," the most common "luminal" form and another subtype associated only with the HER2 protein.
The researchers then examined these women with respect to their reproductive health histories including breast-feeding practices, onset of menstruation and menopause. All of these, Phipps said, provide indicators of the hormone levels over time for these women.
"We've known for a long time that breast-feeding reduces your risk of breast cancer, and that it was probably related to hormones," she said. But there has been little specific research, she said, on which hormones might affect the risk of these more aggressive forms of breast cancer.
By comparing the molecular nature of these breast cancer types with each woman's reproductive history, Phipps and her colleagues found that breast-feeding for at least six months corresponded with a lower risk of both the common luminal form as well as the triple-negative form of breast cancer. They also found that early onset of menstruation (before age 13) was associated with a higher risk of the HER2 breast cancer.
Late onset of menopause and the use of hormone treatments were found to increase the risk of luminal breast cancer. They found no risk differences associated with the number of children or the mother's age at first birth.
While it is common knowledge that female hormone levels change with the onset of menstruation or menopause, and so may be related to hormonally influenced cancer risks, it is not fully understood why breast-feeding would be correlated with this cancer-hormone link.
"One possible explanation is that while women are breast-feeding, they aren't menstruating and so their hormones aren't cycling," Phipps said.
So the more women breast-feed, she said, the less chance their hormones may have to trigger a cancer. Another theory, she said, is that breast-feeding alters breast cell structures in ways that make them less prone to develop into cancer cells.
The findings support the overall view that breast-feeding can reduce a woman's risk of cancer, Phipps said. More importantly for scientists, she said, it shows that different reproductive health behaviors have different effects on various forms of breast cancer.
"It helps explain why some women are at higher risk and also why certain therapies are not effective against these more aggressive forms of breast cancer," she said.
Chinese cop helps quake effort by breastfeeding
CHENGDU, China - A Chinese policewoman is contributing to the country’s massive earthquake relief effort in a very personal way -- by breastfeeding eight babies.
A newspaper in Chengdu, the capital of quake-hit Sichuan province, devoted a special page to the 29-year-old woman, calling her a “hero.”
The woman from the quake-ravaged town of Jiangyou has just had a child herself, the Western Urban Daily said.
She is nursing the children of three women who were left homeless by the quake and are too traumatised to give milk, as well as five orphans, the report said.
The babies who lost their parents have been put in an orphanage which does not have powdered milk, it said.
An estimated 50,000 people were killed in the May 12 earthquake, China’s worst natural disaster in a generation.
When I first started blogging, I wrote about my experience donating breastmilk to another family titled, Cash Cow. From that post, I was contacted by a UK documentary about wet nursing and cross nursing practices. They are looking for personal accounts in the US. If you are interested in sharing your experience, please contact producer, Anna Edwinson, or myself and I will pass along the information.
A letter from the producer, Anna Edwinson, follows.
I'm developing a Channel 4 documentary called "Wet Nurse" for one of the
UK's most acclaimed networks. I find the subject fascinating and I want
to make an informative, compassionate, fair and thought provoking
documentary exploring the need of a wet nurse in today's society.
Now with health scares about formula milk, an increase in plastic
surgery and women who can't or won't breastfeed - a wet nurse has its
use. This added with gay couples - especially since the law changed
allowing them to adopt - could a wet nurse make a comeback and become
But of course the issue is complicated. Although the milk can be
screened - how can you guarantee that the milk is safe? Furthermore -
what about the bonding process between the child and its wet nurse? And
should a wet nurse get paid or should it be free?
There's so much to debate and explore that speaking to women first hand
is vital. What I'm particularly looking for are women who can't or won't
breastfeed and are currently engaged in casual or paid wet nursing. I'm
also looking to speak to women who are currently cross feeding or wet
Please email email@example.com to discuss
We have begun the countdown. I am going away this week and leaving my children behind. For three days. For the first time. And then there will be no more nursing.
All done nursing when mommy goes on the airplane.
We go to airport?
Mommy goes to the airport. I am going to go on an airplane and be away. You’ll stay with daddy and there will be no more nursing.
It seems right and fair that I give them warning. I have been warning them for weeks as we whittled the sessions down to before nap and at night and then just once at bedtime. As I have all but stopped, my supply dropped dramatically and my deflated glands hung shriveled and discarded like plastic sandwich bags washed for intended reuse. Working out at the gym diminished their purpose as well when pecs and delts began to form behind the sagging flesh and replaced once perky sources of baby milk. Its bitter sweet, this end. But I am ready for it.
I thought the end arrived unexpectedly Saturday night. After a regretfully late scheduled family haircut and low blood sugar trolling for gluten free dinner alternatives, we arrived home much past bedtime. Tavi and Bea fell asleep in the car and transferred without much fanfare to bed. Neither one nursed. I sat there unsure of what to do for a few minutes before I slunk off the bed like I was getting away with something.
Sunday night resulted in a stand off and I gave in because the deal was: when mommy goes on the airplane. And I was not ready to force the memory of that last time at my breasts as I had done with Ivy.
It felt like Tavi had been ripped from my arms even though we gave voluntary hugs and kisses when I left before dawn on Thursday morning. The cold empty space against my chest felt closely like heartbreak. I had to control myself to keep from running from the snaking TSA security line and back to my babies. I held my shredded heart in my mouth as the plane lurched forward into the sky towards the Mexican sun. The pain, excruciating. I wrote reams of consciousness in my journal, hoping to wash the pain away with ink. Pieces of my heart were still tightly tethered to the ground until, close to tears; I finally fessed up to my seatmates that I was on my first childfree getaway. The retired couple next to me nodded empathetically, sharing the loss of their own empty nest. I thought: this is how it will feel when they leave me forever.
Once in San Diego waiting for my friend and indulging in several text messages imploring the status of my children, I began to look forward to my vacation. And once both Mary and the driver arrived, buckled in my seat belt and on a one-way route across the border I began to loosen up. A couple of margaritas didn’t hurt either. Not to mention the massage / facial and sauna / jacuzzi combo. By the time I had enjoyed some good food, great scenery and a little shopping I was looking forward to a bed to myself.
I bought a prepaid international phone card before I left but didn’t count on not having cell phone service on the southern side of a very ugly fence. My attempts to speak with the Spanish-speaking operator failed miserably and after a desperate attempt to send a meager email, I realized it was for the best. My children were in capable hands and I was on vacation. Vacation meaning from my life, which meant the thankless tasks of motherhood. But I missed my children and regretted my resentment for them. And oh the guilt!
Over the course of the next three days I consoled my grief and guilt in gallons of margaritas, deep tissue manipulation and strolls along the beach. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time and enjoyed the freedom of choosing to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. But at night I tossed and turned in a fitful attempt at solo sleep. I was used to having my co-sleeplings grab, punch and kick me awake in the dark. And I had hot flashes as the few remaining nursing hormones fled my body in a delayed post partum exorcism. My body retired from lactation in a beach front hotel overlooking the Pacific ocean. I was “done”.
As soon as I saw my wriggling children sleepy and restless in the back seat of the car, I was happy to be home. When I was making my connecting flight, I was terrified I would miss my plane and be without my girls for another night. But I made it and anxiously arrived at PDX. And now here they were looking more like children and less like the babies I imagined I abandoned. Ivy fought sleep and was happy to see me. Tavi made a feeble attempt to feign anger before she relented and grinned the whole ride home as I held her hand. Bea squirmed and blew me kisses until the car was parked in the front of our house. Inside I delivered promised goodies and they all begged for bed. As I snuggled up next to my little urchins, I held my breath. Tavi assumed her position beside me and asked so sweetly it cracked my mending heart, “Nurse please?”
I’m sorry, baby. It’s all gone. We’re all done nursing when mommy went on the airplane.
At that last sweet soothing, curled in my arms, I made them say good-bye. “Bye-bye nursing. All done.” I was sad, but looking forward to my trip. But now home again, picking up a dropped routine, I almost caved. I felt myself giving in but decided, really, it was time. I would have no other easy out after this. And I was ready. I am ready to have my body back.
The next night Tavi asked again and after being refused fussed and flung her arms madly. Bea pushed out her bottom lip and threatened to cry, but was too tired to fight. And I think they knew the line was drawn. There was no going back now. The following night, Bea pleaded in one last effort and melted into the pillows where she fell asleep with my arm around her. I’m sure the asking will slowly taper into a memory. One I hope they will keep, at least that feeling of closeness and knowing that we once shared my body.
Setting opinions about immigration aside, where is the bar set for our country's standard of human decency? I know many people are ignorant about the relationship between a nursing mother and her child; and legislation is delinquently catching up to WHO recommended guidelines, but the actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in this article in the New York Times appalled me.
If this woman had not been given a breast pump (and she did only after THREE days) when she became engorged, she could easily have developed a debilitating case of mastitis. And the fact that the infant, a US citizen by US law, did not eat for three days is clearly inhumane. As a US citizen myself, I would have a winning lawsuit against the acting government agency had I been separated from my nursing children.