Now there's proof that breastfeeding lowers diabetes risk for women who breastfeed. Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the US.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that breastfeeding lowers a mother's risk of developing diabetes. The study found that the longer women nursed, the lower their risks of developing diabetes.
The study of more than 157,000 mothers found that for each year a woman breastfed her baby, she was 15 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the next 15 years. It didn't matter how a woman tallied up the time; feeding one baby for 12 months or two for six months, each worked equally well.
Breastfeeding can help women lose weight, a key factor in diabetes risk prevention however, researchers believe that the results have more to do with the fact that lactation improves the body's ability to process insulin and metabolize blood sugar.
The researchers are proving that breastfeeding changes a woman's' metabolism in ways that help keep blood sugar levels stable and make the body more sensitive to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers had lower blood-sugar levels than those who did not breastfeed.
In the first study, which began in 1976, 6.3 percent of women who breastfed less than one year or not at all developed diabetes, compared with 5.5 percent of women who breastfed for more than a year. In the second study, which began in 1989, the rates were 1.9 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Diabetes risk and obesity