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Breast-Fed Children Have Lower Risk of Leukemia

| June 2, 2015 Comment

Breast-Fed Children Have Lower Risk of Leukemia – A review of previous research that was published in the JAMA Pediatrics, shows that children who are breast-fed have a reduced risk of leukemia.

Researchers say that though childhood leukemia is rare it’s still the most common cancer that affects children, and accounts for one in three cancers in children. Study author Efrat L. Amitay, of the University of Haifa in Israel, included 18 studies in the review, that involved about 10,000 leukemia cases and 17,500 children who did not have leukemia. The studies were published between the years 1960 and 2014.

Amitay found that children who were breast-feed for at least six months had a 19% lower risk of leukemia than those who were breast-fed for a shorter period or not at all. Though researchers don’t know how exactly breast-milk helps, Amitay says that one explanation is that breast milk contains antibodies made by the mother that promote a healthy community of gut bacteria in the intestines of the baby. These gut bacteria affect the way the child’s immune system develops.

Another possible explanation is that breast milk keeps the pH levels in an infant’s stomach in a range that promotes the production of a beneficial protein complex called HAMLET, which has been shown to kill cancer cells.

Researchers say that people should be educated about the various protective health benefits of breast milk, so breast-feeding is socially accepted and promoted.


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