Scrutinizing misleading breastfeeding headlines

Breastfeeding headline is dubious. Photo via Milan Jurek.

Breastfeeding headline is dubious. Photo via Milan Jurek.

I hate studies, or shall I say, headlines, like these:

While I fully acknowledge that breastfeeding is healthier for the mom and baby in the majority of cases, to say that it COULD prevent breast cancer in thousands of cases lacks perspective.

I looked it up, there are about 300,000 new cases of breast cancer a year. If breastfeeding could stave off 5,000 cases a year, that’s about 1.8%, and of that 1.8%, what were the confounding factors? I haven’t looked into the actual study in depth, but at that small of a percentage, if all confounding factors were accounted for, that could conceivably be within the margin of error.

So, the concern I have with these types of studies and headlines, is that they are ultimately misleading, regardless of where your values fall on certain behaviors and healthy lifestyle choices.

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More Breast-Feeding Could Save Billions and Prevent Thousand of Breast-Cancer Cases

It’s not really fair to turn breastfeeding into a scare tactic or headline maker if we’re giving out misleading information.

Breastfeed if you like it, because it IS healthier, but realize that statistics are just a matter of risk assessment and those risks may be small in the scheme of things. If you enjoy breastfeeding, then you may also be reducing your risk of breast cancer but if you hate breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get breast cancer. There is a big difference.