Studies Show the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Studies show that breastfeeding decreases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The biggest and most extensive study of its kind done by scientists from Cancer Research UK found that the longer mothers breastfeed, the more they reduce the risk of disease. This means that even if pregnancy increases the risk, breastfeeding will cancel it out and give you added protection.

Researchers compiled data from 47 separate studies from 30 different countries, involving 50,000 women with breast cancer and almost 100,000 women without. In this study, they found that a mother’s risk of breast cancer goes down by 4.3 percent for each year she breastfeeds and another 7 percent for every new child.Cancer researchers in the UK say that it could prevent around 1,000 cases of breast cancer in Britain each year. The World Health Organization recommends women to breastfeed up to two years or longer.

Another study found that breastfeeding cancels out the elevated risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes caused by pregnancy. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz and her colleagues analyzed data from about 140,000 postmenopausal women. “The longer women nursed babies, the less likely they were to develop diabetes, heartdisease, or stroke,” Schwarz told WebMD. She also said that if women breastfed just for a few months, they were less likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If they breastfed for more than six months during their life, they had reduced risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“Pregnancy without breastfeeding increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but with breastfeeding a woman has the same risk she had before pregnancy,” Schwarz says. She also stressed that if you have many children, but breastfeed longer in each pregnancy you should come out fine, without any increased risk ofdisease.

A third study done by Gunderson show that women who breastfed their children for at least three months had decreased risk for diabetes and heart disease, including a slimmer waist. Researchers believe that a slimmer waist may be a clue to why breastfeeding reduces the risk of various diseases. A study done by Gunderson and colleagues found that childbearing increased belly fat. Gunderson says that more definitive data is needed before a good recommendation can be made. “But the body of evidence is growing, and seems to consistently point to a very good effect of breastfeeding on women’s health,” she told WebMD.

Sources:

Cancer Research UK: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/ne…
CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/…
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/…

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