Breastfeeding could reduce the risk of endometriosis

A new study has found another positive to breastfeeding [Photo: Getty]
A new study has found another positive to breastfeeding [Photo: Getty]

Women who breastfeed for an extended period of time may be less susceptible to endometriosis, a new study has found.

Research conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US found that, for every additional three months a woman breastfed, her chance of being diagnosed with endometriosis was reduced by eight percent.

The team studied 3,296 women who had been surgically diagnosed with the disease after their first pregnancy.

They looked at three important factors: how long each woman breastfed for exclusively, how long they did it for accompanied by formula milk or solid food, and how much time passed before their first post-partum period.

They found that women who breastfed for 18 months or more were almost 30 percent less likely to then suffer from endometriosis.

Breastfeeding women could reduce their chance of endometriosis by up to 30% [Photo: Ed Uthman/Flickr]
Breastfeeding women could reduce their chance of endometriosis by up to 30% [Photo: Ed Uthman/Flickr]

However, the increase in hormones including oxytocin and oestrogen during pregnancy has also shown to influence sndometriosis risk.

The disease, which affects one in 10 women across the world, currently has no cure. There are an estimated 1.5 million women in the UK alone with it, and infertility rates for women who suffer from it are between 30-50 percent.

“Given the chronic nature of endometriosis and that very few modifiable risk factors are currently known, breastfeeding may be an important modifiable behaviour to reduce the risk of endometriosis among women after pregnancy,” Leslie Farland, a research scientist at the hospital said.

“Our work has important implications for advising women who are looking to lower their risk of endometriosis and may lend support to the body of public health and policy literature that advocates promotion of breastfeeding,” she added.

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