Research on the links between breastfeeding and cancer
A causal mechanism for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
This review explores the multifactorial causation of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). It argues that there are three stages to the development of the disease: an initial genetic mutation that takes place in the womb; a lack of exposure to microbes in the first year of life, and a childhood infection which can cause immune system malfunction. The study highlights the important role that microbes play in determining health outcomes, as well as the value of breastfeeding in supporting the development of these microbes in an infant’s gut.
Further analysis of this review available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-44199844
Breastfeeding and childhood leukemia
This meta-analysis looked at the association between breastfeeding and childhood leukaemia and found that, compared with no or shorter breastfeeding, any breastfeeding for 6 months or longer was associated with a 19% lower risk for childhood leukemia. The authors conclude that promoting breastfeeding for 6 months or more may help lower childhood leukemia incidence, in addition to its other health benefits for children and mothers.
Meta analysis of Breastfeeding and Childhood Leukemia
This study concluded that both short-term and long-term breastfeeding reduce the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML). A significant, negative association was observed between long-term breastfeeding and both ALL risk.
Breastfeeding reducing risk of Childhood Acute Leukemia
Information regarding breastfeeding was obtained through telephone interviews with mothers of 1744 children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and of 456 children with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Ever having breastfed was found to be associated with a 21% reduction in risk of childhood acute leukaemia. The inverse associations were stronger with longer duration of breastfeeding. The authors acknowledge the need for further investigation.
Breastfeeding reducing risk of Hodgkin’s disease
This qualitative review of 9 published case-control studies suggest that children who are never breast-fed or are breast-fed short-term have a higher risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease (HD), but not non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The authors speculate that human milk may make the breastfed infant better able to negotiate future carcinogenic insults by modulating the interaction between infectious agents and the developing infant immune system or by directly affecting the long-term development of the infant immune system. They comment that further research is needed and that improved measurement of infant feeding should be addressed.