(ORDO NEWS) — Previously, it was only known that their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes was reduced. New work shows a similar effect is observed for a much broader spectrum of diseases.
Researchers from Austria and the United Kingdom have analyzed all the major studies affecting mortality from breastfeeding mothers from cardiovascular diseases.
As a result, they came to the conclusion that both these diseases themselves and the risk of death from them in lactating women is significantly lower than in their peers who have never breastfed their children. A related article was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association .
In total, scientists included in the work information on 1.19 million women who gave birth, whose average age at the time of the end of the data recording was 51.3 years. The average age at first birth was 24.6 years, and the average number of births was 2.3.
Of these, 82% said they breastfeed for some time in their lives. The average duration of breastfeeding was 15.6 months. During the observation period after childbirth, more than 100 thousand cases of cardiovascular diseases were detected in women, 10 766 for this reason died.
Grouping breastfeeding women into age groups, divided by risk factors (smoking / nonsmoking, and so on), the authors of the study found that women who breastfeed had cardiovascular diseases 11% less often than those who never breastfed.
At the same time, the risk of death from such diseases in them turned out to be 17% lower: that is, even if the disease did occur, it did not lead to death so often.
As might be expected, the probability of this type of death was the lowest in those women who were fed for longer – 12 months or more. Those who fed less than 12 months in their life died from cardiovascular diseases more often than those who fed for a long time, but still less often than those who did not feed even once.
The mechanism of this decline is not entirely clear. However, it is known that oxytocin is secreted in women during breastfeeding. This hormone is associated with a decrease in bleeding after childbirth, a faster reduction in the size of the uterus to standard, and a number of other processes.
Perhaps it somehow correlates with a lower likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer in lactating women – and the risk remains reduced throughout life.
It should be noted that the authors of the work did not include women who had no children at all. Because of this, a reasonable question arises, how are things with them, but the researchers do not specifically dwell on it.
In the scientific literature, there are attempts to find out the frequency of cardiovascular diseases in children and childless women, but their results differ markedly among different groups of authors. The relationship between the number of children and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease is still poorly understood.
It has only been reliably established that women and men who had children live longer than those who did not. For example, using Swedish material, child men lived 2.0 years longer than childless peers, and women – 1.5 years longer.
At the same time, it is rather difficult to say with certainty that the reason here is the lower mortality rate from the heart and blood vessels. The fact is that, as we already wrote , the risk of cancer in children is noticeably lower than in childless people (and regardless of the gender of the parent).
The reasons for this may be associated with the same oxytocin (it is produced by fathers who see their children). Since a significant part of all deaths in general occurs precisely in cancer, the reason for the longer life expectancy in this case may be precisely its lower probability (and not the reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases).
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