A new study shows that women who breastfed their babies for two years or more had an 18 per cent lower risk of heart disease and a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke.
Previous research has shown that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity – and scientists hope their new findings will encourage more women to choose breast over bottle.
Researchers from the UK and China examined health data from more than 280,000 Chinese women, nearly all of whom were mothers.
After adjusting the results for other risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure and physical activity, they found mothers who breastfed their babies had a 9 per cent lower risk of heart disease and 8 per cent lower risk of stroke than mothers who never breastfed.
The longer each woman breastfed her baby, the more their risk of cardiovascular disease appeared to reduce.
Each additional six months of breastfeeding per baby was linked to a four per cent lower risk of heart disease and a three per cent lower risk of stroke.
A researcher Sanne Peters,
“Although we cannot establish the causal effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster ”reset“ of the mother’s metabolism after pregnancy,” she said.
“Pregnancy changes a woman’s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her baby’s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born.
“Breastfeeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely.”