Privacy Policy User Agreement Contact Us
  Extended Search

Current Issue
Submission Guidelines
Important Research
ND Calendar
ND Update
Nutrition and Herbs
ND Locator
Reader Poll
Schools & Associations
Consumer Information
Contact Us
Link To Us
Site Map

Breast-Feeding and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is There a Connection?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs up to four times more frequently in women than men.

Evidence suggests that female sex hormones may be at least partially responsible for this trend, in that rheumatoid arthritis appears to develop during times when these hormone levels fluctuate, such as in the first few months after giving birth and the years leading up to menopause.

Various case-control studies have suggested that behaviors such as breast-feeding may increase the risk of RA. On the other hand, some cohort studies have suggested that breast-feeding may actually protect women from the condition.

In an attempt to clarify the link between breast-feeding and the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers examined data from the Nurses' Health Study, a cohort of more than 121,000 female nurses. Among the factors the scientists looked at in determining the relationship were age of first menstrual period, number of children, age at first birth, duration of breast-feeding, smoking, body mass index, use of oral contraceptives, incidence of irregular menstruation, and use of hormones following the onset of menopause.

A total of 674 women in the cohort were identified with incident rheumatoid arthritis. After adjusting for variables such as age, the researchers noted a significant decrease in the incidence of RA based on the incidence and duration of breast-feeding. Compared to women who did not breast-feed, women who had breast-fed between 12 months and 23 months were 30% less likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Breast-feeding for at least 24 months resulted in a 50% reduction in RA risk. The researchers also discovered an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women who had their first menstrual period at age 10 or younger and in young women with "very irregular" menstrual periods.

"In conclusion," note the authors, "we observed that breast-feeding was inversely associated with the risk of RA, with a strong trend for decreasing risk of RA with increasing duration of breast-feeding, and that early age at menarche is positively associated with seropositive RA. In addition, we identified a novel risk factor, irregular menstrual cycles, that increased the risk of subsequent RA ... These findings suggest avenues for further research into the hormonal mechanisms involved in RA, because the complex relationships between RA and reproductive hormones clearly warrant further study."

Karlson EW, Mandl LA, Hankinson SE, Grodstein F. Do breast-feeding and other reproductive factors influence future risk of rheumatoid arthritis? Results from the Nurses' Health Study. Arthritis & Rheumatism, November 2004;50(11):3458-3467.


Archives | Contributors | Current Issue
Important Research | Naturopathy Calendar | ND Online | Nutrition & Herbs
ND Locator | Reader Poll | Schools & Associations | Submission Guidelines
Consumer Information | Contact Us | Link To Us | Site Map

Other MPA Media Sites:
ChiroWeb | AcupunctureToday | MassageToday | DynamicChiropractic | DynamicChiropractic Canada
ChiroFind | ToYourHealth | ChiropracticResearchReview | NutritionalWellness | SpaTherapy

User Agreement | Privacy Policy

All Rights Reserved, Naturopathy Digest, 2011.
Date Last Modified - Monday, 27-Jul-2009 09:14:16 PDT