Breastfeeding could reduce risk of high blood pressure post-menopause
AFP Relaxnews / 08:31 PM February 01, 2018
New research has found that women who breastfeed their children, and for longer periods of time, are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure after menopause.
Led by Nam-Kyong Choi of Ewha Womans University in South Korea along with Sangshin Park from Brown University, in Rhode Island, the study looked at 3,119 non-smoking postmenopausal women aged 50 years or older who had taken part in the 2010-2011 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The team found a linear relationship between breastfeeding more children and breastfeeding for longer and a lower risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) post-menopause, with the risk of hypertension lowered by 10 percent for every one-child increase in the number of children breastfed and by 4 percent for every one-year increase in duration of breastfeeding.
However, the beneficial effect of breastfeeding was not as strong for women who were obese.
Previous studies have also consistently found that not breastfeeding or stopping breastfeeding early is associated with an increased risk of a range of other health conditions including diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular diseases, with Choi commenting, “Our findings endorsed the current recommendations for breastfeeding for the benefit of maternal health in mothers’ later lives.”
Research has shown that long-term breastfeeding is also beneficial for children, reducing their risk of allergies, celiac disease, obesity and diabetes mellitus.
However, few studies have established a clear relationship between breastfeeding and a mother’s risk of hypertension, which is the greatest single risk factor for cerebrovascular disease.
Although the mechanisms between breastfeeding and hypertension are not yet fully understood, the team proposed that breastfeeding could have a beneficial effect by “resetting” maternal metabolism after pregnancy, which includes fat accumulation and insulin resistance. This resetting may reduce cardiovascular risks including hypertension, as well as lower the risk of obesity-related diseases.
Secondly, the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is stimulated by breastfeeding, may also decrease the risk of these diseases.
The results can be found published online in the American Journal of Hypertension. JB