This is the kind of information people need to help them combat breast cancer. But Dr. Miriam Grossman, M.D. points out that there is a strong reluctance to report it. I knew that having babies and nursing them was one good way to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer (and, if you think about it, it’s very logical or even teleological) but I did not realize the extent to which it was true. According to Dr. Grossman:
Numerous large studies have shown that each birth will reduce your risk by ten percent and each year of nursing by at least four percent. So if you start your family early, have three kids and nurse them each for two years, you’ve decreased your risk by about 54 percent.Now that’s really something! That should be front page news in October--the so-called "Breast Cancer Awareness Month." But apparently, we’re not supposed to be that aware. Grossman points to a thwarted campaign among doctors to try and respond to the dismay of patients who discovered that they were infertile in their 30s. A group of them tried to sponsor PSAs that showed a baby bottle shaped like an hourglass. The text announced that fertility starts to decline after 30. This is nothing but a fact--and a fact about which a great number of disappointed patients had reported ignorance. Still, malls and theaters refused to post their announcement. This deliberate ignorance of female biology is really astonishing. It has become perfectly acceptable to discuss (in the most public and even obscene ways) the anatomy and function of the female clitoris, but to suggest that fertility declines after 30 and that early childbirth helps prevent breast-cancer is--well, taboo. Up is down and black is white.
I should point out to those of you who have followed my postings on these topics that I have just discovered that Dr. Grossman is, in fact, the "Anonymous, M.D." responsible for this book which I reviewed here). The paperback is now out and includes a new introduction and her real name on the cover. I’m glad she isn’t anonymous anymore. This kind of thing needs to be combated and it needs people willing to take the heat.