(HealthDay News) – For women from South China, breastfeeding is associated with reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially a longer duration of breastfeeding, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in Rheumatology.
Peymane Adab, MD, MPH, MB, ChB, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study using data from 7,349 women aged ≥50 years in the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort. The authors sought to examine the correlations between RA, oral contraceptive use, and history of breastfeeding. Sociodemographic, lifestyle, and obstetric history data were obtained from questionnaires.
The researchers found that breastfeeding correlated with half the risk of RA when compared with never breastfeeding. Increasing duration of breastfeeding correlated with lower risk (adjusted odds ratio, 0.54 for breastfeeding for ≥36 months; P trend = 0.04). There was no correlation found between oral contraceptive use and RA.
“Breastfeeding (especially longer duration) but not oral contraceptive use is associated with a lower risk of RA. This has potentially important implications for future RA disease burden, given the declining rates of breastfeeding and the one-child policy in China,” the authors write. “Further research is needed to explain the biological mechanism.”