Here’s good news for breastfeeding moms. A study confirms that this healthy habit can reduce a woman’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by as much as 50 percent. What’s more, the longer you breastfeed, the bigger the benefits.

This was revealed by Dr. Elizabeth ...Here’s good news for breastfeeding moms. A study confirms that this healthy habit can reduce a woman’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by as much as 50 percent. What’s more, the longer you breastfeed, the bigger the benefits.

This was revealed by Dr. Elizabeth Karlson of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who studied 121,700 women to determine the effects of hormonal factors in RA. RA is the most debilitating form of arthritis that affects more women than men. The exact cause of this inflammatory condition is unknown but some researchers believe hormones may be involved in the disease.

Untreated, RA causes the body’s own immune system to attack the tissue that lines the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and deformities. While there’s no cure for RA, the right treatment can help patients live long, productive lives.

“Female sex hormones have long been thought to play a role in RA, which is diagnosed in women up to four times as often as in men. RA often develops when hormone levels are changing, such as in the first few months after giving birth and around the time of menopause,” according to Salynn Boylers of WebMD Medical News.

Karlson’s subjects were part of the ongoing Nurses' Health Study, a sweeping investigation of disease, health, and lifestyle since 1976. Using questionnaires, the team noted the subjects’ reproductive history, paying close attention to potential RA risk factors like age at menarche, age at first birth, history of breastfeeding, use of oral contraceptives, and regularity of menstrual cycles.

They also studied estrogen use in older women after menopause. From this group, researchers singled out 674 RA patients most of whom were middle-aged when they got the disease. They later found that the risk of RA was lower in those who breastfed their babies. The longer breastfeeding was practiced, the lower the risk of RA. No benefits were seen in those who breastfed for less than a year.

“Looking at total lifetime breastfeeding, regardless of number of children, women who had breastfed for between 13 and 23 months had a 20 percent reduction in the risk of RA compared with women who did not breastfeed. Women who had breastfed for at least 24 months – two full years out of their childbearing years – increased their risk reduction to 50 percent,” said Carla Sharetto in Daily News Central.

“The breastfeeding finding was something of a surprise because some studies have suggested that it increases risk. We don’t understand the mechanism behind this completely, but it does appear that there are hormonal changes associated with breastfeeding that are long-lasting," Karlson explained.

If you are the past the age where breastfeeding is impossible and you already have RA, don’t fret. Many prescription drugs can help ease the pain of RA and reduce its crippling complications. Unfortunately, some of these expensive drugs have serious side effects that are worse than the disease itself. To be on the safe side, use Flexcerin, a non-prescription natural supplement that soothes aching joints, rebuilds and repairs damaged joints, and restores joint mobility and flexibility. Check out http://tinyurl.com/8jkw6ma for more information.

Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com.