This blog is intended to provide a discussion forum on topics surrounding pregnancy, labor, birth, breastfeeding and family health. The purpose is to review research studies, articles and highlight the buzz in health news. But please remember, I am not your health care provider and do not intend to give medical advice.:)

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Breast Cancer Vaccine?

Have any of you heard about this yet? A research study was recently published in Nature Medicine by researchers at Cleveland Clinics Lerner Research Institute. A new vaccine is being developed to prevent breast cancer. Neato. But there's just a teensy downside. One of the major "side effects" is that it is most likely to inhibit future breastfeeding capability for its recipients. This may be fine for those post-childbearing women, but the researchers' discussion is that the vaccine could be recommended to younger women with a family history of or predisposition to develop breast CA, i.e. those at "high risk." Thus, one of the greatest preventative tools for lowering the risk of breast CA (breastfeeding) is being bypassed so that the newer high tech, and advanced tools can take a whack at it. All the while the young women who would receive this potentially preventative vaccine who subsequently give birth to babies likely won't be able to breastfeed those babies. A drop in breastfeeding rates can mean a rise in breast CA, and thus the vicious cycle spins. If this vaccine were to become a standard recommendation to young "at risk" women, we could actually see a RISE in breast CA in the general public, because future generations wouldn't be breastfed. Even with the potential benefits of technology and vaccines for combating breast cancer, neither can replace what nature has already provided as one of the best protections against the illness--breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of our best tools to prevent breast cancer. And what of all the other vast benefits of breastfeeding to both moms and babies? Well, those benefits would be all but lost by those young women who receive this vaccine. Now, I am no conspiracy theorist, and I am not into bashing providers, but I do wonder if even well-meaning providers would be completely forthright with their young female patients about the potentially adverse and far reaching effects of this vaccine, or if they would mostly highlight the benefits. Let's not go crazy with this information; it still only in research stages and who knows if it would actually be approved for use. Only time will tell what this could mean for women's health. 

You may read the abstract here:

I apologize that I am unable to get a link to the full text article to you. It was just published on 30 May 2010 and won't be available to the public for some time. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

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