Breastfeeding reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by about 10 per cent, according to Chinese researchers who recruited 289,573 women.
The women â€“ aged, on average, 51 years â€“ did not have CVD at baseline. During the median follow-up of 8.1 years, there were 16,671 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD), 14,290 ischaemic strokes and 2,998 haemorrhagic strokes. Breastfeeding was associated with a 12 per cent reduced risk of both major CVD and ischaemic stroke, a 9 per cent reduced risk of CHD and an 8 per cent reduced risk of stroke overall compared to controls.
Women who breastfed for â‰¥24 months had an 18 per cent lower risk of CHD and a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke. Each additional six months of breastfeeding reduced the risk of CHD and stroke by 4 and 3 per cent respectively.
â€œAlthough we cannot establish the causal effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster â€˜resetâ€™ of [her] metabolism after pregnancy,â€ comments author Sanne Peters, a research fellow at the University of Oxford.
â€œPregnancy changes a womanâ€™s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her babyâ€™s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born. Breastfeeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely.â€
Women who breastfeed may also be more likely to engage in other health behaviours that lower CVD risk.
J Am Heart Assoc DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.006081
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