Health Benefits of Being a Mother

A government report indicated that while overall cancer rates are declining, there has been a disturbing upward swing in breast cancer in middle-aged women.  The reasons for this are not clear, although it has been established that women who have had children are less likely to develop breast cancer that those who have not.  Also, the younger you are when you have your first child, the better your chances for escaping this problem.  Pregnancy appears to lower concentrations of prolactin, a hormone which is known to cause breast tissue growth and contribute to malignant breast tumors in experimental animals. It has been noted that in the past few decades, more females have become career women and consequently, do not marry and become mothers, or do so when they are comparatively older.  In addition, such individuals may be subjected to various forms of job stress due to frustration in advancement or obtaining parity with male workers having equivalent skills, training and experience.  Emotional stress has been demonstrated to cause a depression in immune system defense against cancer and a variety of viral-linked disorders.  One study of women who had married between the ages of 17 and 44 revealed that those who never had children were much more susceptible to sudden death due to heart disease.  Possible explanations offered include an abnormal endocrine state which possible contributed both to infertility and cardiac disease because of estrogen deficiency as well as the psycho-social stress associated with being barren.  In any event, it appears that motherhood bestows certain health benefits, as well as more obvious rewards.