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Breastfeeding May Halve Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

Update Date: Jan 06, 2014 07:38 PM EST

New research reveals more reasons why breast is best. Breastfeeding can halve the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to researchers.

After studying thousands of Chinese women, researchers discovered that breastfeeding, especially for a longer duration, significantly lowers the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The latest study used data from 7,349 women aged 50 years or older in the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort.

Study results revealed that most of the women had had at least one live birth, and over 95 percent had breastfed for at least one month.

After accounting for potential confounding factors, researchers found that women who had ever breastfed were around half as likely to have rheumatoid arthritis. The study also found a statistically significant trend of decreasing risk of rheumatoid arthritis. with increasing duration of breastfeeding.

Researchers believe that the latest study has the potential to lower future rheumatoid arthritis disease rates.

"Women who took part in this study were born in the 1940s and 1950s, before China's one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s, and at a time when breastfeeding was more prevalent. The consequent decline in breastfeeding supports the need for prospective studies to examine whether there will be a higher incidence of RA in the future," researchers wrote in the study.

"More importantly, replication of the association between breastfeeding and lower risk of RA in a different population reinforces the need for further research to understand the hormonal mechanisms involved in the onset of RA," they added.

The findings are published in the journal Rheumatology.

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