Breastfeeding Could Lower Women's Chances Of Strokes, Study Finds

Considering stroke is the third leading cause of death for women, these findings are particularly exciting.

It's no secret that breastfeeding has many benefits, which is why some describe breast milk as "liquid gold." But it's not just the baby who benefits — for moms, breastfeeding can lower the risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postmenopausal osteoporosis. 

And now, a recent study by the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA)published on August 22, found that breastfeeding could be linked to a lower risk of stroke for women later in life.

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Considering "stroke is the third leading cause of death for women," according to the National Stroke Association, these findings are very exciting.

The JAHA study states strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in women 65 or older and the third leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanic and non‐Hispanic Black women who are 65 and over. The study was one of the few to examine a link between breastfeeding, stroke, and whether the results change by ethnicity. 

The study took data from 80,191 participants in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, an ongoing national study that tracks "the medical events and health habits of postmenopausal women who were recruited between 1993 and 1998." It looked at participants who had delivered at least one child, the number who had experienced a stroke and those who breastfed compared to those who never did. 

The calculations showed on average that "women who reported ever breastfeeding had a 23 percent lower risk of stroke."

What's more, the JAHA study found that the risk was 48 percent lower in Black Women, 32 percent lower in Hispanic women, and 21 percent lower in White women. It also showed that a longer length of breastfeeding,  past six months, was linked with having a greater reduction in the chance of having a stroke.

For women who are able and willing, "the take-home advice to new moms is that they should include breastfeeding as part of their birthing plan."

Stated study leader Lisette Jacobson of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. "And they should try to continue for at least six months so they and their baby can share the optimal benefits of breastfeeding."

The study points out that women who are not able to breastfeed can still reduce their chances of suffering a stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices including not smoking, regulating blood pressure, getting enough exercise and having a healthy diet.

The finds are interesting, but the study concludes that "further investigation is warranted." It was an observational study, meaning there still needs to be research into proving the cause-and-effect relationship of how breastfeeding reduces the chance of strokes.

(H/T: PopSugar)

Cover image via  Radoslav Cajkovic I Shutterstock

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