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Women's Health

July 2019

Breastfeeding May Lower Women’s Postmenopausal Stroke Risk

You’ve probably heard that, in addition to nourishing babies, breastmilk bestows countless benefits for little ones, including decreased risk for infection, disease, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Woman sitting on a couch, breastfeeding her infant

Breastfeeding is also a boon for moms—it reduces your risk for breast and ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. Recent research published in JAMA reveals another plus for moms who’ve nursed: a lower risk for stroke.

Breastfeeding slashes postmenopausal stroke risk by 23%

Researchers examined data from the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing study that’s focused on finding ways to prevent chronic disease among postmenopausal women. They looked at information from more than 80,000 women who’d given birth to at least one baby and provided information about their breastfeeding history.

Researchers found that postmenopausal women who had a history of breastfeeding for at least one month had a 23% lower risk for stroke compared with those who never breastfed.

You can lower your stroke risk

Even if you did not breastfeed, there are several steps you can take to decrease your chances of having a stroke, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and following a heart-healthy eating plan

  • Limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day

  • Engaging in physical activity on most days of the week

  • Quitting smoking

Discuss your stroke risk with your healthcare provider.

 

To learn more

Find out about other steps you can take to reduce your risk for stroke.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2018
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