Pregnancy and childbirth are already considered definitive miracles, but there's another thing that people sometimes forget belongs in that category too: breast milk. Researchers since the 1980s have been studying breast milk and its benefits, according to Science Daily, and they've seen some amazing results.
Some of the benefits of breast milk include increased protection from cancer and infection for babies — but they aren't the only ones who benefit from this extraordinary substance. Breastfeeding and breast milk production help mothers by allowing them to develop protection against some reproductive cancers, iron deficiency, and persistent pregnancy weight. It’s as if motherhood weren’t magical enough, now we know — and continue to find out! — that it produces this healing, protective, certifiably awesome thing called breast milk.
Like any good thing, of course, breastfeeding isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There are legitimate potential concerns that have caused some mothers, like one who penned a 2009 story in The Atlantic, to not prefer it. Regardless of your preference, it is pretty amazing to know what breast milk can do. Read on to learn more about three huge benefits breast milk can provide for a mother and her child.
Breastfed Babies Are Less Likely To Develop Cancer & Infection
Back in the 1980s, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that breastfed babies were less likely to develop cancer than formula-fed babies, according to Natural News. That's thanks to a substance found in breast milk called HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor) cells that kill cancer cells, while letting healthy cells continue to grow and reproduce as usual.
And as recently as August, London researchers found that a sugar naturally present in some women's breast milk may protect newborns from a harmful bacterium that causes meningitis and pneumonia, according to Science Daily. In July, researchers also found that breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections than formula-fed babies.
Breast Milk Kills 40 Types Of Cancer Cells
In a 2010 study, Sweden researchers treated patients with bladder cancer with HAMLET. Patients secreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, and their healthy cells remained intact, according to Fox News. After the study, researchers planned to study the effects of HAMLET on skin cancer and brain tumors.
Breastfeeding Provides Physiological Benefits To The Mother
The benefits of breastfeeding and milk production to mothers have been studied and well-documented. According to Alicia Dermer, MD, at La Leche League, breastfeeding has been proven to prevent postpartum hemorrhages, conserve iron for longer because of a delay in the return of periods, expend calories and help lose pregnancy weight, which could contribute to decreased risk of diabetes.
Dermer also mentioned that, even though breastfeeding mothers were previously thought to be more vulnerable to osteoporosis because of a loss of calcium, studies have shown that, after weaning their children, mothers' bone density returns to pre-pregnancy levels and in some cases, can be higher. Numerous studies have also shown that breastfeeding mothers have a reduced risk of some reproductive cancers.