Skip to comments.Risk: How a Baby May Save Your Joints
Posted on 11/12/2004 8:08:41 PM PST by neverdem
Women who breast-feed have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, even decades later, researchers have found. And the longer they nurse their babies, the smaller the risk becomes.
The findings grow out of the long-term Nurses' Health Study, which has followed the health of more than 120,000 women since 1976. The study, led by Dr. Elizabeth W. Karlson of Brigham and Women's Hospital, a Harvard affiliate, appears in the current issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that can destroy the joints, affects women much more often than it does men. Some scientists have theorized that male hormones may help hold the disease in check.
Indeed, the authors of this study said they had thought they would find that breast-feeding increased the risk for the illness, on the theory that the hormone prolactin, which rises when women nurse, might serve as a kind of trigger.
"However," they wrote, "our findings demonstrated the opposite."
The study also found that women from 30 to 35 with irregular menstrual cycles had a greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life.
Among the women studied, those who reported having breast-fed for 13 to 23 months were one-fifth as likely as women who had not breast-fed to develop the arthritis. Those who said they had breast-fed for at least two years reduced their risk by half.
The researchers said their study did not confirm earlier findings that women who used oral contraceptives lowered their risk of the disease. And although rheumatoid arthritis often comes at the time of menopause, the study found no difference among women who had hormone therapy.
But God forbid you feed the kid in public. That might OFFEND someone.
Lower risk of breast cancer; lower risk of arthritis; stronger, smarter healthier babies; cheaper than formula: why do anything else?
"But God forbid you feed the kid in public. That might OFFEND someone."
Yep, it is offensive. Take it to the bathroom or stay at home.
Interesting. Hope the future mothers hear about this so they will choose to nurse Baby rather than bottlefeed Baby. Thanks, ND
Even with a blanket over the shoulder?
How dare you discuss hard drugs on this forum!
I agree - open breast feeding where the woman just flops out her teet and the baby goes to town is a bit too much for me. I'm prudish enough to be uncomfortable when a woman breast feeds with everything covered. Nursing is a wonderful thing, but should be enjoyed privately.
Some would say that news sucks...
'Even with a blanket over the shoulder?'
Why does anything go now? A women I know breast feeds at Mass with a blanket over her and it's just wrong. Stay home or go to the bathroom.
Urination is god-given and natural, too, but lets not do that in public, either.
At mass? Well I think a woman should use judgment in where she nurses, but a woman can't always run home or to the bathroom.
Why don't you eat YOUR meal in the bathroom? If you're offended by a mother discretely breastfeeding her child, you've got issues.
How long is Mass?
Even a very young infant goes for two hours or more with out food.
Stuff he kid full of milk before and after...LOL
LOL yeah let the baby fast before communion ;-)
I agree. Unless you're a refugee fleeing a warzone, it's not likely that you couldn't have done a little planning and nursed somewhere in relative privacy BEFORE you trotted off to the mall or out for lunch. Some people just like making a spectacle of themselves.
"This is junk science at its worst! Before anyone ever bottle fed,there were many incidences of rheumatoid arthritis"
I think most of the studies about breast feeding are junk science. God forbid you bottle feed your child. Totally politically incorrect today.
Bottle feeding is junk science. Breast feeding is BY FAR the most natural and effective means of feeding a baby. Nothing else even comes close...
It's PC to breast feed,work,and if they could find a way to "prove" that voting for Dems would cure cancer,they'd write that too.
My grandmother breast fed her children and unfortunately,had terrible arthritis in her fingers,which she got at a rather young age.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
This is good news for me. Inflamitory disease runs in my family big time. I had my kids in my mid 20s.
Yeah, I think everyone should eat their dinner in the bathroom.
I am amused by the strong suspicion that if they proved breastfeeding enabled the male to retain or regain erectile function you'd get whiplash watching the attitude reversal of most such Victorian posters.
I have 4 kids and nursed each of them until they were around 18 mo of age. Granted the last few months were for their comfort as nursing was more of a security thing for them. It's good to know that because I was a human pacifier that my health risks are low.
Um, sometimes it doesn't work out quite that easy. Unless someone is being extremely public (whipping the breast out and calling attention to herself) you probobly wouldn't even know it's being done. A nursing top, blanket etc can offer a lot of discretion.
could you add the key word health to these when you post or ping them. I like to pass them on but have a hard time finding them when I go back to get them.
I wish I could breastfeed (stop laughing). I'm eaten up with arthritis and I'm only 32.
They've done studies similar to what you've asked, but they were with much smaller sample populations, and the results varied. What makes this study impressive is the much larger sample size and the length of the study.
I believe this is the study in question. Check their related links, or copy and paste (parity OR nulliparity) AND rheumatoid arthritis into PubMed's browser.
The wording here is not clear. Is there an increase in risk after 23 months or a further decrease?
My wife breastfeeds our son. He seems extremely healthy (knock on wood). Now that he is eight months he has also been eating solid foods for a while. On the subject of breastfeeding in public, my wife was initially very discrete, but she rapidly adopted the attitude that feeding the baby is much more important than worrying about other people's problems with it. Babies digest breast milk more rapidly than formula so they get hungry and need to be fed more often.
Check the link in comment# 35. It's not junk science. It's a discussion of risk factors. The female to male ratio in RA about 9 to 1. Women who already have RA before they become pregnant typically go into remission during pregnancy. Something is happening with hormones, although it's just not the whole story.
I could if I weren't so absent minded. I can usually depend on the Times to include health and medicine and other pertinent key words when I post from the Times, but this time they failed me. However, if I goof and forget, feel free to add it yourself.
Bottle-feed the ankle-biters all you want in front of me . . . but if I'm not at the Men's Club, I neither expect nor want to see breastage in public.
Soooooooooo...is a cure for arthritis to be constantly pregnant now?
Egyptian mummies and the remains at Pompeii have been studied by forensic scholars.They've found arthritis in many remains.This doesn't jive with this article's positions.
Go click on the link in comment# 35. Copy and paste colostrum AND antibodies in to PubMed's browser. Breastfeeding enables infants to get maternal antibodies that helps to keep them healthy while their infant immune systems are developing.
I am pretty absent minded my self. I did find the one I wanted by doing a search on your handle. Thanks for keeping up on the health issues. I do pass them on to interested parties.
But, who nurses for 13 TO 23 MONTHS?. Impossible!. I nursed my baby for 6 months and, of the moms I know in their 30's, I am the one who did it the longest. I didn't want to do it in the beginning, but hearing it was so good for the baby, I started doing it as soon as he was born. OMG!, I would have never stopped!. From the emotional point of view, it's so wonderful!. I would have done it even though the study had found it's bad for that disease.
I am reading though that is it kind of disgusting to see moms breastfeeding in public. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is pretty common to see it. I don't see anything wrong with it, as long as the mom is appropriately covered with a blanket. I actually did it. I would say, let's get used to it. It is natural and marvellous.
I think what they mean is that the first group had one-fifth LESS cancer than the non-breastfeeding group, and that those who nursed for more than two years had half as much as the non-breastfeeders.
They still don't know why people get RA. One of the ways they try to study disease is with epidemiological studies where they try to understand risk factors, just like smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, age, sex and family history are risk factors for coronary artery disease. RA is just one type of arthritis. This is an epidemiological study that says among other things, women will have a lower risk of getting RA the longer that they breastfeed. It doesn't say it will prevent RA, just lower the statistical risk.
I understand about hormones and pregnancy better than a man,even one who studies it,ever can.
Here's an anecdotal example for you. My grandmother didn't smoke,there was no family history of arthritis,and she breast fed two children,but got arthritis in her fingers ( which was a terrible blow,since she was a concert pianist)in her late 30s.
A very great deal of these breast feed your baby or.....junk science studies are junk science,with the outcome already decided upon,BEFORE the studies are even made.
Do you have any training in science?
Yes, college level.
And graduate level as well.