Science says your boobs basically eat themselves when you stop breastfeeding

A new study has revealed your boobs basically eat themselves when you stop breastfeeding [Photo: Getty]

As any new mum will testify, the transition into parenthood brings with it a whole host of weird and wonderful body changes. Goodbye normal boobs, hello 24-hour milk machines! But have you ever wondered what actually happens when you stop breastfeeding and your boobs go back to normal again?  

Up until now the fact that the transition back to regular boobdom can occur in a matter of days has been tricky for scientists to explain, but a new study could have uncovered some answers. And you might be quite surprised by the results.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield say they have identified the molecular switch that causes women’s breasts to stop producing milk when they stop breastfeeding. And it turns out that once lactation is complete, cells in the breasts devour dead cells that are left over from the breastfeeding process. Eek!

If any breastfeeding mum is currently freaking out right now, allow us to ‘try’ and explain. Normally when your body has a bunch of junk to clean up, cells called phagocytes come along and ingest them, clearing away the unwanted build-up. But when a woman stops breastfeeding, special ‘epithelial cells’, which form tiny milk-secreting sacs called alveoli (not to be confused with the alioli the garlic dip) self-destruct on a huge scale to allow your boobs to return to their regular state. Effectively, the epithelial cells ‘eat’ the dead cells that are left over after breastfeeding

We can’t help looking at boobs in a whole new way! [Photo: Getty]

“Women’s breasts comprise a network of ducts, covered by a layer of fatty tissue,” explains Linda Geddes, writing for New Scientist.

“During pregnancy, hormonal signals cause epithelial cells lining the ducts to proliferate and form ball-like structures called alveoli, which is where milk is made when the baby is born. However, once women stop breastfeeding, these structures self-destruct – a process that involves massive cellular suicide, and the removal of the debris.”

It is hoped that the new research could provide vital insights into the development of breast cancer.

The study was published in the journal Developmental Cell.

What do you think of the new research? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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