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Is Breast Really Best?

By April 27, 2009 - 10:26pm
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For those women out there who may wonder if this is a myth or not, here is a recent report of the benefits of breastfeeding not for the baby but for the mother.

According to a study in the May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, mothers-to-be may want to consider breasting to protect their own health. The study showed that women who breast-feed for longer than one year seem to be 10 to 15 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease after menopause than women who don't breast-feed.

The new findings should help tip the scale for women who are considering breast-feeding as well as encourage those who already are breast-feeding to do so for longer periods of time. "Heart disease is the leading killer of U.S. women," Dr Eleanor Schwartz lead study author an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care in Pennsylvania.

Add a Comment16 Comments

Coach Virginia, I totally agree with you. We do need to share all health information. We're all about access here.

We also need to voice our opinions and be heard. I appreciate all of your contributions and hope you didn't take it personally when I criticized the study.

Thoughtful, lively discussion certainly makes it interesting around here. ;)

April 30, 2009 - 10:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Kristin Davis)

I found the discussing to be real. I appreciate all points of view. I wanted to breastfeed, but could not. I was tired of hearing how much better it would be, but my daughter could not because she had acid reflux. So, the first comment that was made by Kristin I really appreciated. I also think that studies are a very useful tool in improving outcomes. Each one builds on the other. I read studies all the time and there are many flaws. We just hope the next one is better :). Good topic.

August 3, 2009 - 9:19pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Hi, J,

Thanks for your comment! I'm sorry about your daughter's acid reflux. That's not fun at all. How old is she now and has it gotten any better?

I hope that people didn't give you a hard time over not breastfeeding. Some people are quick to judge even when they don't know the whole story.


August 4, 2009 - 10:53am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Kristin Davis)

She is 15 now :), but obviously it still is bothersome to hear about the breastfeeding. I would have if were okay. Actually, it was determined much later that she had GERD. Later, the signs seemed simple and I was surprised in the hospital that it was not addressed. I didn't know at the age of 22 that all of the signs pointed to that. Needless to say, I am a speech-pathologist now and more aware. She is old enough now to manage her allergies and reflux through appropriate diet choice. She really does a good job. Having her be a part of her medical needs and understanding has been a tremendous support. Thanks for asking and your comment again about judgments. Some people just jump to fast and they have to be ignored OR...educated :)!

August 4, 2009 - 12:27pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Yes, I agree!! And it's amazing how many people need to be educated even though there is plenty out there about those with special conditions. This is off topic from breastfeeding, but I was completely floored once by a group of women (moms, no less) who laughed out loud and made rude comments about my teenage son who was just a few feet away from them. He has Tourette's Syndrome and can't help the vocal tics that he makes. He was horrified by their laughter and teasing and looked like he wanted to melt. I just couldn't let that slide, so I went over to them and explained what Tourette's is. I don't know if they "got it," but I tried. None of them apologized to him -- they just stared until we walked away.

I'm sorry your daughter has GERD. I have it too and it's not fun. It got worse after each of my pregnancies. I have to go in for an endoscopy every 3-5 years to widen my esophagus with a balloon instrument since I have Schatzki's Ring. I also take Omeprazole (generic Prilosec) twice a day to prevent the attacks (esophageal spasms) that I used to get from time to time. I'm not crazy about taking medication like that, but I have relatives who have suffered from esophageal cancer (this issue runs in our family apparently), and I think this kind of prevention is better than going through that. Anyway, I hope your daughter can manage it well through diet and avoid medications if she can.

August 5, 2009 - 10:33am

I am no here to defend the original posting, but I think it is clear that it was intended to be a question and NOT an affirmation. As a moderator, I make choices on what information adds value to understanding health and wellness. I picked the research results of this study because offers information on benefits to women's health, it is not about taking "choice" away from women or whether "women must or should breastfeed".

If anyone reading the posting wishes to know more about the study I am sure reading the May issue of the scientific journal or contacting the lead researcher at the University of Pittsburgh is an option.

Kristin, I have no doubt that you know a lot about this subject, but many other women, including me, welcome new information about health and wellness. Otherwise, why are we here for? It is in acquiring new knowledge that women will become a stronger voice in deciding which research, treatments or drugs we will demand.

As a woman I do not want to read postings just about sex, orgasms, as these continue to put women in a limited place in society. So, let's allow women expand their knowledge by accessing information that has been published in reputable medical journals. I am sure many readers make choices based on information that gives them both sides. And despite all the information available, a choice can still not be perfect, but at least is one that minimizes harm to self or love ones.

April 30, 2009 - 4:43pm

Coach Virginia, all I'm saying is that we need to use our brains and not take all medical studies at face value. That's just common sense. Some studies are bound to be flawed, some may be funded by pharma and skewed to their advantage, etc. We need to be smart about the information we take in so that we end up making the best choices for our bodies.

Like I said previously in this thread, I breastfed two of my babies, and I also chose not to breastfeed, and I made the best choices at those particular times for me and my family. Sure breastfeeding can be great and can have benefits -- I don't doubt anything about that. You're not telling me anything that I don't already know from experience. Also, formula feeding can be great and can have benefits. They are both great options. Neither is best. The only thing that is "best" is what you've chosen to do for your baby.

When I chose to feed my youngest daughter formula and forgo breastfeeding, that was the absolute best decision under the circumstances -- breast was NOT best then and no one could have convinced me otherwise. When I breastfed my premature son while he was in NICU, that was the absolute best decision under the circumstances. And, frankly, it wasn't anyone's business how I fed my child.

What I'm saying, and I've said this over and over like a broken record, is that whatever choice a mom makes regarding feeding her baby is best. We need to get away from judging each other on this topic. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed is a personal decision, and a mom makes the best choice she can. She doesn't need to feel pressured by a marketing slogan ("breast is best") or by flawed medical studies such as the one in this original post, or by people who judge her if she doesn't follow the current breastfeeding trend.

April 30, 2009 - 10:51am

Kristin, I am curious what do you accept? The whole medical model is built around what is called "evidence-based", is it the evidence pendulum that concerns you? In other words, if it goes to the right or the left? Science is a guessing game with "guessing" rules of engagement we call variables like "data", "animal models" "controls", etc. We, as a society have to either reject science or accept it. Are you proposing we reject it all together or just reject those study results that do not meet individual belief systems? Western societies embrace science that can show evidence of efficacy, that is why the pharmaceutical industry is a powerful, influencial industry. If you do not accept studies at face value, what do you accept? I am just curious.

I am the first person to admit that I do not subcribe to drugs as the answers to disease, but it is our scientific model that puts them in the market to treat illness. We need to accept them to treat certain conditions!

Many studies have been done to undertand that nature of humanity. I happen to believe that our bodies are equipped with a self-healing ability that is already programmed in our molecular structure. But no one can deny the "naturally programmed functions" our bodies suppose to perform (i.e. breastfeeding, sexual orgasms, eating, sleeping, etc)without them, we would be extint today, they are natural processes that humans perform to survive the physical experience over time.

Everyone knows that sexual activity produces chemical changes in the body that are good for our health, I do not see why the act of breastfeeding could not have chemical effects that offer health benefits to women either. If you doubt the latter, then you need to doubt the former.

April 29, 2009 - 10:22pm

Wow! Sorry if I started Women's WWIII...I hope that we do not miss the value of the study as it had nothing to do with babies but with the health of women who make a "free" choice to breastfeed and as a result get some health benefits for themselves. Every study is sponsored by someone, that is how our world works. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology chose to publish the study results because it considered it scientifically strong and worth of publication so physicians and the scientific community can access new knowledge. I personally have no authority to call this study flawed or questioned its results.

I suggest accepting the posting on its data value. EmpowHer is here to share information and I trust women will make their own decisions.

April 29, 2009 - 8:54pm
(reply to Coach Virginia)

I've learned that any time you even mention the word "breastfeeding," you're bound to offend someone....

Regardless, breastfeeding aside, one thing I've learned here at EmpowHer is that we (especially women) need to be a lot more critical about many of these so-called studies since so many are flawed and so many are backed by pharma and/or political interests. If we don't study them closely and know exactly who is funding them and why, then we're only going to continue the status quo, which means women will continue to be short-changed in the medical realm. We've not had enough quality studies done involving our gender, and fortunately there are organizations such as The Society for Women's Health Research in DC that are working diligently to change this.

So, no, I don't accept a study on face value only and don't think others should either. Of course you have the authority to question it. We all do. We need ALL of the information in order to make informed, educated choices.

April 29, 2009 - 9:56pm
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