The longer women breastfeed, the lower their risk of heart attacks,
strokes and cardiovascular disease, report University of Pittsburgh
researchers in a study published in the May issue of Obstetrics &
"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so
it's vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect
ourselves," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., M.S., assistant
professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and
reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "We have
known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health; we
now know that it is important for mothers' health as well."
According to the study, postmenopausal women who breastfed for at
least one month had lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and
high cholesterol, all known to cause heart disease. Women who had
breastfed their babies for more than a year were 10 percent less
likely to have had a heart attack, stroke, or developed heart disease
than women who had never breastfed.
Dr. Schwarz and colleagues found that the benefits from
breastfeeding were long-term - an average of 35 years had passed since
women enrolled in the study had last breastfed an infant.
"The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of
them," Dr. Schwarz pointed out. "Our study provides another
good reason for workplace policies to encourage women to breastfeed
The findings are based on 139,681 postmenopausal women enrolled in
the Women's Health Initiative study of chronic disease, initiated in
Reported in news-medical.net.
Original research: Duration of Lactation and Risk
Factors for Maternal Cardiovascular Disease. Obstetrics &
Gynecology: May 2009 - Volume 113 - Issue 5 - pp 974-982.