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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Breastfeeding may lower women's diabetes risk: Study

BEIJING, Nov. 23 -- A US study has found that the longer women nursed the lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The new study, published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 157,000 nurses who participated in two long-running health studies. They filled out periodic health questionnaires and were followed for at least 12 years. Researchers found that women who breast-fed for at least one year were about 15 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who never breast-fed. For each additional year of breast-feeding, there was an additional 15 percent decreased risk. "We took into account diet, exercise, smoking status, whether or not the women took multivitamins -- which is a marker of whether they are health-conscious or not -- and we still found that 15-percent benefit," said Dr. Alison Stuebe, the study's lead author and a researcher at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Beyond 15 years after the last birth there wasn't so much of a benefit, but for at least the first 15 years there seems to be some long-term association that protects women from diabetes," Stuebe added. The researchers say breast-feeding may change mothers' metabolism and these metabolic changes may help keep blood sugar levels stable and make the body more sensitive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Breast-feeding has numerous health benefits for babies, too, so encouraging mothers to nurse "is kind of a win-win from a public health standpoint," Stuebe said. Enditem

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