One More Reason to Breastfeed
By now, most women know how great breastfeeding is, for both mother and child. It enhances bonding between the two, and is by far the best nourishment you can give your child. Although the emotional bonding is an obvious plus, what happens to the breast after feeding? It was once common knowledge that continual feeding, jostling, etc. would eventually wear down the breast tissue. But is that true? A new study says that breastfeeding can have the opposite effect - slowing down the aging process for post-baby breasts.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
A study of identical twins published today in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins," shows environmental factors play a key role in how a woman's breasts age.
Breast feeding, daily moisturizing and hormone replacement therapy can make a woman's breasts appear more beautiful, but smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can take an aesthetic toll, according to researchers. Other factors like higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup sizes also contribute to accelerated breast aging, according to the study.
Now, women can identify lifestyle behaviors that can slow the aging process to avoid surgical intervention, according to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation.
For the last three years, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 161 pairs of twins.
"It's very rare that both twins have been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life," he said. "The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic standpoint. If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental factors."
Data was collected from consenting women between the ages of 25 and 74 at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsberg, Ohio. The average of the study participants was 45.5 years old.
The study had two parts. First, each set of twins was given a questionnaire on lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, number of pregnancies, use of a bra, stress at work, sports, hormone replacement therapy moisturizing and exposure to the sun. Each twin answered independently. Then, photos of the twins' breasts were taken "in a secluded area by professionals." Those photos were "subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers." The author acknowledged there is "no objective measurement" for what makes a breast "beautiful." But researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size.
With the data, researchers ran a regression model. "One by one, we check for different factors and try to weed out what is making a significant difference and what factors don't," he said.
The study seemed to refute myths about the negative effects of nursing a baby, findings that surprised the researchers. Even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, the skin quality was better in women who breast fed.
"All these twins did not breast-feed without being pregnant and pregnancy has a negative effect on breast appearance," the lead researcher said. "My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu -- sort of like internal hormone replacement. So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit."
Leave your comment:
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.