According to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, mothers who breast feed for a longer period of time have lower rates of getting rheumatoid arthritis.
A team of researchers from Sweden’s Malmo University Hospital discovered that women who breastfeed their babies for a period of more than a year have lower risks of rheumatoid arthritis, almost up to 50 percent. The researchers’ team analyzed 136 women who were already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis compared to 544 women who didn’t have the disease.
The findings showed that women who had breastfed for a period of 13 months or more were half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and women who had breastfed from the period of 1 to 12 months had decreased chances, up to 25%. Breastfeeding raises a hormone level known as oxytocin, which leads to reduced stress levels and lowers blood pressure.
In UK almost 400,000 people are suffering the chronic condition of rheumatoid arthritis. Women who had children but did not breastfeed were likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of the Arthritis Research Campaign said, “The study shows different results from previous studies. In the past we have shown that breastfeeding was a risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis in a small group of women soon after giving birth to their first child.
“This is slightly different in that it looks at longer-term risk. One explanation could be that women who breastfeed may lead healthier lifestyles than women who don’t, but we don’t know the mechanisms that would explain this fully, and not enough work has been done in this area,” added Prof Alan.
Rachel Haynes, from the voluntary organization Arthritis Care said, “The surprising results from this research demonstrate how much more we need to know about rheumatoid arthritis and its causes.” She added that, “It is important that women feel able to make informed choices by balancing their lifestyle with the full range of evidence about the pros and cons of breastfeeding.”
Also this Swedish study has verified that contraceptive pills which used to be the reason on the halving of rheumatoid arthritis, is no more effective as the researchers found that the intake of oral contraceptives doesn’t aid in lowering the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.