Having a larger family lowers the odds of developing cancer

ZURICH, Switzerland — Here’s one reason to have more kids, in case it’s a topic of debate with your partner: a new study finds that larger families have lower risks of cancer.

Using data from 178 countries, researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine of the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Adelaide Medical School determined that there’s a connection between family size and the development of all types of cancer.

“And this relationship is independent of income, levels of urbanization and age,” explains Professor Maciej Henneberg, academic guest at UZH and senior author of the study, in a release.

The research team says that larger families especially see lower rates of bladder, brain, breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and stomach cancers, as well as melanoma. In fact, the data showed the effect was stronger when total household size was taken into account. That is, the number of inhabitants of a single home is linked to cancer risk, even if that number includes extended family.

The effect was particularly notable in males more than females, which surprised the authors as previous research showed that a woman’s cancer risk drops with every pregnancy.

As for why having more children can make families healthier, the researchers suggest that larger families may enjoy a stronger emotional bond and an even more loving, positive environment which helps to ward off diseases. Additionally, family members tend to push each other to take better care of themselves, and often keep a look out for one another when it comes to health.

The full study was published September 26, 2018 in the journal BMC Cancer.