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Eight years ago, researchers learned that the primary cause of breast cancer is limited pregnancy & breastfeeding.

This shouldn’t be so shocking, given what we know about lung, cervical, pancreatic, & other cancers. But these researchers weren’t expecting this finding at all – in fact, they were so startled that they decided not to focus on educating the public about their findings, but on searching for drugs that would replicate the results.  Lead researcher Valerie Beral reported that, "Prolonged breastfeeding and having lots of children pushes breast cancer rates down. It is completely unrealistic to think that there is a direct preventative message in that for women in the developed world today.  We will have to find out how this happens and ask ourselves if there is a way of mimicking these effects in a way that is acceptable."  In 2008, she challenged the medical industry to focus on creating drugs that do just this.

Now, it seems, those drugs are here. I received an email today from the Army of Women, a research group that seeks to recruit millions of women who will receive regular emails from them whenever they have a new study to fill. The study introduced today says that they are seeking volunteers who will agree to inject themselves regularly with pregnancy-mimicking hormones. (I imagine that breastfeeding-mimicking hormones will be next.)

In this email LINK were some admissions I was surprised to find:
"[P]regnancy and breastfeeding appear to reduce breast cancer risk in women."    Well, I was just surprised to see it in print, considering I’ve never seen this Army mention this in any of their materials.
"including those with a BRCA1 or 2 mutation"   In other words, having and nursing children reduces risk even if you have the “breast cancer gene.” This is consistent with my theory that lifestyle factors (such as smoking) cause disease, while genetics only play a role in determining who among those with the lifestyle factors will get it.

As it turns out, when a woman spends her fertile years bearing and nursing children, she has a very limited number of menstrual cycles, sometimes only a dozen over those years. This is the historical & biological norm for our species.

Alas, our bodies have not adapted to the modern demands which change this pattern.

Whether it’s full-time employment or infertility, breastfeeding struggles or choosing to be child-free, judiciously limiting family size or just naturally short periods of lactational amenorrhea despite following primitive breastfeeding norms, the numbers of modern women who get years of respite between menstrual cycles is so low that most doctors think there’s something wrong with you when you’re one of them. (raises hand as said medical freak) Add to that our ever-decreasing ages of menarche, and we now undergo close to 40 years of nearly nonstop estrogen cycling, when our bodies are designed for dramatically less estrogen exposure.

Back to that study:
If you are accepted into the study you will be taught how to inject yourself under the skin of your stomach with … hCG)…. You will be asked to inject yourself three times a week for 12 weeks…. [These] hormones that mimic pregnancy can change these high risk women's breast tissue in ways that appear to reduce their risk…. At these three visits, the researchers will also use a thin needle to take a sample of your breast tissue.” (I hope this pays well!)

Interestingly, in the year or so that I’ve been in the Army of Women, they have not yet asked for healthy, breastfeeding women to participate. At first, it seemed they didn’t know that limited breastfeeding is the primary reason for our breast cancer epidemic. Now, it seems they are certain, but like the researchers mentioned earlier, are equally certain that none of that will change and they need to focus on all the other random factors. This strikes me as akin to keeping quiet about cigarettes while vigorously seeking study participants to examine to what extent lung cancer can be cured or prevented by focusing on vegetables, sleep, chest x-rays, genes, & drugs.

That's precisely what Dr. Beral recommends: "Erk.  Livejournal technical difficulties.  Will be back to edit later!

We will have to find out how this happens and ask ourselves if there is a way of mimicking these effects in a way that is acceptable."

Because having large families and nursing them cannot possibly be acceptable.  :)

For more information:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/oct/06/cancer.women - Discussion of the 18th century observation that nuns had the highest rates of breast cancer & the early 20th century research that first definitively linked breast cancer to the number of children & years of breastfeeding a woman has (along with age of first pregnancy & menopause).

New blog by my daughter, of stories for children that she (a child herself) has written: http://astorygarden.blogspot.com/



( 2 comments — Comment )
Jul. 6th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I ready about 10 years ago that breast cancer was caused from underarm shaving. If you prick yourself, some of the deodorant seeps in the tissues. Countries that do not promote underarm shaving don't have breast cancer.
Apr. 11th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
Gosh, I’ve been looking about this specific topic for about an hour, glad i found it in your website!

( 2 comments — Comment )


A collection of news that tells the truth about the world, in a world that holds News as an article of Faith, but rarely gets even half the picture.
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There are many kinds of success in life worth having. It's exceedingly interesting and attractive to be ...a President, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or kill grizzly bears and lions. But... a household of children... certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.

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