breastfeedingWe could probably go on and on for days about the benefits breastfeeding provides for babies, but a new study shows that it can prove to be very positive for our own health as well.

Research was conducted at Universidad de Granada in Melilla, Spain, and the results of the study were reported online in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. It found that non-smoking moms who breastfed their babies for more than six months got breast cancer an average of 10 years later than women who did not breastfeed or did not do so for as long.

Ten years? Wow. That's pretty significant.

The women involved in the study were all diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 19 and 91. For those who breastfed from three to six months, the average age upon diagnosis was 55.5 years. And the moms who nursed for less than three months or did not have children had an average age of 56.7. Moms who nursed for more than six months got the disease at an average age of 65.4 years old. (See? Pretty big gap.)

While it's interesting (and also disheartening) that the women studied who breastfed for more than six months still got breast cancer, the fact that they were shown to develop the disease so much later than the other moms in the group is definitely a wake-up call. It gives women yet one more reason to make the decision to breastfeed their babies (if they can, of course).

It's also important to note that the results of this study paired with other breast cancer studies suggest that the incidence of the illness could be reduced from 6.3% to 2.7% in women who do breastfeed for the longer than a six-month period of time.

And since most of us immediately cringe the minute we hear someone say breast cancer -- anything that lowers the risk of winding up with it is worth paying attention to for sure.

Personally, I did not breastfeed for the full six-month period or more -- not even close, in fact. But maybe if I'd been a little more aware of the benefits for not only my baby's health, but my own, I would've at least attempted to stick with it a little bit longer. And that's why it's so important to take these studies to heart and spread the word as much as possible -- because the results may be exactly what a woman who is agonizing over the decision of whether or not to breastfeed her baby (and for how long) needs to hear.

Do you plan on breastfeeding for longer than six months?

 

Image via Daquella manera/Flickr