Breastfeeding lowers leukaemia risk
Breastfeeding for a few months may lower the risk of leukaemia in children.
Leukaemia is a disease in which the bone marrow produces large numbers of abnormal, immature white blood cells, crowding out normal blood cells over time. The core difference between ALL and AML is in the type of white blood cell affected.Previous studies have yielded conflicting results whether breastfeeding affects children's leukaemia risk. Researchers from the University of California, USA conducted a study, which included more than 8,000 children with ALL or AML. The findings strongly suggest that breastfeeding is protective.Breastfeeding is known to have a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of common childhood infections. This particular benefit, may explain the connection between breastfeeding and lower leukaemia risk.Other researchers have theorised that a rare, abnormal immune response to early-life infection may play a role in ALL. In children with genetic aberrations that predispose them to the disease, such an abnormal immune response could act as a secondary promoting event that results in ALL. Breastfeeding, through its benefits for the developing immune system, may protect against such an immune response.The finding that breastfeeding was also related to a lower risk of AML was not anticipated on biological grounds. It's possible that a separate immune-based mechanism underlies this relationship, but more research is needed to answer that question.
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