Carol Alt

Can Breast Feeding Be Our Defense Against Disease?

By Carol Alt / Post / May 30, 2016
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The news isn’t good when it comes to breast cancer. It hasn’t been good in a while, but recently it seems there’s been an upward trend, one that definitely concerns me. The other night I was sitting in my living room with Robert of the Robert Scott Bell Show (7:00PM to 9:00PM EST every weekday) when this conversation came up. He made a comment asking how girls so young get breast cancer, as they’re young and their immune systems should be so strong. This got me thinking about the problem, and several issues come to mind immediately.

It’s not just breast cancer. After a visit to the Hassenfeld Cancer Center for Children in New York City, I’ve come to realize it’s a problem of children getting cancer in general. Now I know there are trained, experienced professionals far more qualified than me to solve this problem, but here are my thoughts.

The mother’s diet in utero comes to mind immediately. The developing child absorbs what the mother eats, and a lot of sugar, caffeine, and processed foods can adversely affect the fetus’s health. It’s a shame, then, that the aptly named SAD, or Standard American Diet, consists of a whole lot of this. Another item I’ve noticed is that, from both historical precedent and documentation regarding breastfeeding, we’re supposed to be breastfeeding our children for four years. Four years! I see a few problems with this. It’s important for a child to get the nutrition it needs, and a mother’s milk and colostrum are important for this AND for the immune system’s development. At the same time, however, I can’t imagine a four year-old “little man” sucking on his mother’s chest.

These days, with the popularity of soy-derivative, preservative-filled baby foods, breastfeeding is more important than ever. And with people getting sicker and sicker at younger ages, the absolute urgency of developing a healthy immune system cannot be understated. How do I know all of this? Well I blame most of my health conditions, and I’ve been plagued by a few, from my lack of breastfeeding. I was raised in the era of Dr. Spock, a man who taught against breastfeeding, and this may be where my general malaise came from.

Another reason I think we’re seeing an upward trend in serious childhood illness is the prevalence of fast foods and overly processed foods, which are often fed to children. It may be easy to grab a “Happy Meal” for your child, but it’s not ideal in terms of health. Excess sugars, fats added for flavor, high sodium… All of these things can negatively affect overall health.

And while thinking about this, I had another idea. What if it could be xenoestrogens? I’m not talking about any kooky stuff, either. Xenoestrogens, like the whole BPA fiasco a few years back, fool the body into thinking a synthetic molecule is estrogen, even when it isn’t. This could lead to serious issues in the future, as man made substances mimic natural, vital hormones. These can be found in plastics and processed foods, and these have been found to correlate with increased rates of reproductive cancers.

Granted, we can’t rid the world of these things in a heartbeat. It won’t even be in a few years. This is a serious effort that will take a long, long time. It’s an uphill battle in all directions. But it IS under our control, and we can choose to be healthier. We can eat better when pregnant, we can be sure to breastfeed as much as possible, and we can certainly change our children’s diets. These are things we should be doing anyway, but very few are willing to actually take it as seriously as it is, or that we don’t have the time to research and create the changes. Then again, how much time does it take to be terminally ill?

Maybe, just maybe, if we really take this seriously and be the change we want to see in the world, we’ll see breast cancers, and all types of childhood cancers, eliminated in our lifetimes.

Edited by Jake Layton

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