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Let's beat cancer sooner

There’s been lots of coverage in the media today about improvements in cancer survival rates – statistics we released to help launch our new research strategy. The story made it onto the BBC, ITV, Sky, and Channel 4, and was covered in all the national papers, including the Telegraph, the Express, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and the Independent, as well as a range of local and online media.

A couple of interesting comment pieces also popped up, including this one on the BBC, and this editorial in the Independent.

Most of the coverage was spot on, putting the statistics in proper context. But, as many people on Twitter have pointed out, there was small but significant error made in a graphic in The Metro:

The graphic from today's Metro

The graphic from today’s Metro

The graphic lists breastfeeding as one of a number of lifestyle risk factors ‘linked to cancer’. This is somewhat unfortunate – what the graphic should say is ‘not breastfeeding’ – a large amount of evidence suggests that breast cancers are less common among women who breastfeed for more than six months.

Whoops. This wasn’t entirely the fault of Metro, however – it was taken from some slightly ambiguous wording on our website, which we’ve now updated.

There’s more detail about breastfeeding and its protective effect against cancer here, and you can read a fuller discussion of the lifestyle risk factors linked to cancer here .

Henry

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Nqobile Langa14261562 May 9, 2014

Its an amazing fact because most people thought breastfeeding actually causes cancer, this a breakthrough now mothers can bond with their babies without the fear of cancer

u14163609 May 4, 2014

According to the reading I have done on this topic I found it fascinating how there is much epidemiological data available to authenticate that breastfeeding really can reduce one’s chances of acquiring specifically breast cancer. However, none of the material I encountered spoke of breastfeeding reducing other ‘non-hormonal’ cancers. I feel an important aspect that needs to be highlighted is that the breastfeeding process needs to occur regularly and for a sustained time period of at least six months in order for the benefits of reducing one’s chances of acquiring cancer to be felt. Additionally there are many more benefits to breastfeeding which is why it is so encouraged in many countries. Some of these include its affordability – especially in less developed countries – as well as the bond it creates between a mother and child as was mentioned in the article. It also allows for a transfer of immune protection from a mother to her baby. All this gives substance to the saying that ‘breast is best’.

u14277302 May 3, 2014

Its a relief that if you want to do things naturally it wont affect you and cause cancer.

Gjizelle Nel May 2, 2014

It is a pity that they put the wrong information/statistics out there. I myself am not a mother, but I have seen the beauty of breastfeeding and the bond it creates between mother and baby. Thank you for sharing the correct information, and by doing so calm new mothers by telling them that breastfeeding will not make them more prone to cancer.

University of Pretoria student
student number u14020492