London: Breastfeeding babies can reduce a mother`s risk of ovarian cancer by nearly two-thirds, and the longer she continues to do it the greater the protection against the illness, researchers say.
The new research adds evidence to the benefits of natural feeding as numerous studies have already shown that it cuts the chance of breast cancer, the Daily Mail reported.
Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because its symptoms, like feeling bloated, are non-specific for many sufferers and the illness may not be diagnosed until it is fairly advanced.
For the latest study, Australian scientists studied 493 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and compared them with 472 healthy volunteers of similar age.
Each was asked how many children they had and for how long they breastfed each one.
The results showed those who breastfed a child for at least 13 months were 63 per cent less likely to develop a tumour than those who did so for less than seven months.
According to the findings of the study, the more children they had the greater the effect.
Mothers who had three children and breastfed for a total of 31 months or more were found to cut their chances of ovarian tumours by 91 percent. This was compared to those feeding naturally for a total of less than ten months.
Breastfeeding is thought to help as it delays ovulation, when eggs are released and the ovaries are exposed to high levels of oestrogen-rich fluid.
The main risk factors for ovarian cancer include a family history of the disease, having already had breast cancer, starting periods at a young age and being overweight.
The study has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.