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breast milk linked to cancer [again]

(40 Posts)
pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 12:47:07


The research concludes that women should continue to breastfeed as many other benefits for baby. So women should breastfeed, but feel bad and worry they are doing something that may make their child ill in the long term? What are we supposed to do with this kind of research, the chemicals we have in our bodies we have been absorbing since childhood. Any thoughts? I feel crap.

alwayslookingforanswers Fri 25-Sep-09 12:50:42

well given that only 1-2% of men get testicular cancer (and that's the type they reckon it's linked to) I'd say - oh dear - that's a bummer another cancer inducing thing to add to the list..........just about anything can cause cancer (apparently)

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 12:53:58

men in Denmark up to 4x more likely to get testicular cancer than men in Finland, apparently, and more chemicals in breast milk in Denmark.

alwayslookingforanswers Fri 25-Sep-09 12:59:22

yes but that's to do with the fact that there are more chemicals present in breast milk in Denmark than in Finland - which is nothing really to do with Breastfeeding. It's about how the chemicals are being absorbed into the breast milk in the first place and why it's higher in some countries than others.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 13:00:23

'68 samples'? From 68 women? In two countries? So 34 each?

That is officially bad science.

What you're supposed to do with this kind of science is send it to Ben Goldacre and ignore it until they do a large-scale double blind randomised study.

And what is the original risk? And the increased risk?

But it was published, presumably in a peer reviewed journal so perhaps it was presented as a pilot and is reported very badly? In any case, I imagine they didn't test for these chemicals present in formula or cow's milk?

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:01:37

well i suspect uk has high levels of chemicals in breastmilk, and if that is linked to higher incidence of cancer in breastfed children [as adults] that makes me feel crap tbh. But I don't know if that is the case [ie risk of cancer if ff or bf]

alwayslookingforanswers Fri 25-Sep-09 13:07:53

well if we do have high levels it's obviously not making a vast amount of difference - as testicular cancer rates in the uk are between 1-2% about 2100 diagnosed each year compare that to Breast Cancer where 1 in 9 women are diagnosed each year (45,000 diagnosed each year, 300 of which are men) or 39,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer each year and really the risk is still incredibly low.

Lets not forget - you can get cancer if you eat burnt toast (or any other burnt/BBQ'd food) -

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 13:11:44

This should be the original text so you can read it for yourself...

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:14:14

yes but people didn't breastfeed so much in seventies/eighties, so I am worried about our children's generation. Off to read link Vulpus thanks.

clop Fri 25-Sep-09 13:14:38

Testicular cancer develops when a man is age 16-25.
But they must have tested recent samples of breastmilk.
It's a very speculative link; they'd need to do a long-term study to establish a strong link. It should be possible now to go ahead and see if men with testicular cancer were more likely to be breastfed or formula fed; also, don't cows pick up lots of hormones, so things like dioxins and PCBs get into formula milk, too?

This new research is just a tiny and intiguing possibility.

This 2004 study mentions less observed testicular cancer in men who were breastfed.

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:16:25

that is interesting clop.

alwayslookingforanswers Fri 25-Sep-09 13:17:47

but more people breastfed in the years before then - and as testicular cancer is significantly more common in younger men (probably the age of most MNer's and their DH's) then the increase would already have been seen surely?

If you don't get cancer from smoking, or being breastfed, or eating burnt food, too much sun, breathing in car/toxic fumes, genetic link.......if you're going to get it you'll get it from something else.

QueenOfFuckingEverything Fri 25-Sep-09 13:17:50

But cows don't exactly exist in a vacuum do they? Their milk is likely to have the same if not higher levels of contaminants.

Plus, the manufacture of formula contributes a fair amount to the levels of dioxins and PCBs in the atmosphere.

alwayslookingforanswers Fri 25-Sep-09 13:21:10

Around 2,100 men are diagnosed in the UK each year. Testicular cancer is not that common. Only 1 to 2 of every 100 cancers diagnosed in men are testicular cancers. But it is the commonest cancer affecting young men between 20 and 39 years old. Almost half of all testicular cancers occur in men under 35 years old, while only about 1 in 7 (14%) are diagnosed in men over 50 years. Treatment for testicular cancer works very well and the vast majority of men are cured.

(from the cancer research website). So given that only 14% of cases are in men over 50 (who would almost certainly have been breastfed) why are their rates not much higher?

BertieBotts Fri 25-Sep-09 13:23:31

Yes, cow's milk (ie what formula is made from!) has toxins in as well. As do plastic bottles and rubber/silicone teats - we already have concerns about BPA, who knows what else we have not discovered. The air that babies breathe has toxins in, our bodies while we are pregnant, the environment they are born into, the food they eat for the rest of their lives and the packaging that is in, the random crap they put in their mouths, all manner of body sprays, aerosols and soaps all through life...

Really I think the positive aspects of breastfeeding probably help to protect against some of these things!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 13:25:20

always, I just had a quick scan of the article. I think the implication is not so much about BF but about the increased presence of PCBs etc in the environment. Which would explain the recent rises, although levels are now decreasing in the environment.

I do think major flaws are a. the study is very small, even if indicative and b. they didn't compare with levels in cow's milk. Having said that, I imaginge BF levels in Denmark and Finland are quite high?

But still, it will be splashed all over the press as BF causes cancer which will be a VERY unfortunate interpretation...

mangostickyrice Fri 25-Sep-09 13:27:43

I want to know how the cows manage to avoid absorbing dioxins.

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:31:57

well we get a lot of our PCBs from eating fish and sitting on fire retardant furniture, haven't see a cow on a sofa lately grin but yes they must absorb dioxins too, i remember a study in Vienna I looked at a few years ago, which said com milk lower in dioxins sad

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:32:14

cow milk!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 13:45:01

And another thing. I only scanned it but somewhere it talked about BF as a 'proxy' for foetal exposure.

So in fact the design of the study is NOT intending to demonstrate anything about breastmilk, but just that BM is a measure of how much of the crap is swilling around women's bodies?

If that interpretation IS correct I really do think that this is both irresponsible reporting AND that the academics involved need to get on the press to try to correct the misinterpretation.

God we need Goldacre here.

mangostickyrice Fri 25-Sep-09 13:45:48

Oh, I see. Are we still using the same PCB-filled furniture, or is it in something that's since been banned?

pofacedandproud Fri 25-Sep-09 13:48:33

don't think it has been banned. It is in flame retardant.

mangostickyrice Fri 25-Sep-09 13:51:00

Vulpy - may I call you that? - you're being very reassuring

shonaspurtle Fri 25-Sep-09 13:54:04

This study (from a very brief reading) is about the exposure of male foetuses to these chemicals in the womb.

They are using women's breastmilk as a convenient substance to test to measure the level that their babies may have been exposed to before birth.

I don't think it's about ingesting while breastfeeding.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 13:54:21

Well, yes, it's not great that we're full of dioxins either, whether or not we BF. But you just know this will kick off in the press as BM causes cancer, which is neither proven here, nor what the study is showing...

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