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Breastfeeding found to reduce Arthritis risk

Long term breastfeeding could reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, a new study reveals.
Mothers who breastfeed their children have been found to have a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Mothers who breastfeed their children have been found to have a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Researchers at Malmo University Hospital in Sweden studied the effect of breastfeeding, along with the process of having children, on instances of rheumatoid arthritis. After comparing 136 people suffering with the disease to 544 without, it was discovered that the group with greatest reduced risk had breastfed children for prolonged periods.

Women who breastfed for around 13 months or even more were found to have a 50 per cent reduced chance of contracting the condition. They also included woman who used oral contraceptives, but this was found to have limited effect on reducing rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers said that this could offer another compelling reason for women to choose to breastfeed their babies, which is also thought to reduce risk of breast cancer in women.

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of the Arthritis Research Campaign, told the BBC: "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."

Around 400,000 people in the UK currently have Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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