Benefits of breastfeeding and women's health

OBJECTIVE: To review breastfeeding benefits for the women's health. SOURCES OF DATA: Lilacs, MEDLINE, SciELO, BIREME, Cochrane Library and Google were searched for the keywords: breastfeeding and breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lactation amenorrhea, post natal period, and women's health. Single articles published between 1990 and 2004 were considered, as well as remarkable ones prior to this period. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: There are a few articles published on the topic, even though, the existing literature reveals that there is a positive relationship between breastfeeding and decreased risk of breast cancer, cancer of the ovarian epithelium, and osteoporosis leading to hip fracture. Some studies suggest the effect of breastfeeding on the decreasing risk of rheumatoid arthritis, others mention the relation between breastfeeding and faster loss of weight gained during the gestational period. Several studies show how breastfeeding interferes on the onset of postnatal menstruation and consequent birth spacing. CONCLUSIONS: breastfeeding provides important benefits for the women's health, such as reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, decreased risks of hip fractures and contribution to the increase of birth spacing.

Breastfeeding; breast cancer; ovarian cancer; lactational amenorrhea; arthritis rheumatoid; women's health

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