Breastfeeding protects from heart disease
Researchers in the US found a "significant" association in almost 7000 people between birth weight or duration of breastfeeding and higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood samples of young adults.
The protein is produced by the liver, and levels increase when a person suffers from inflammation.
"Each pound of additional birth weight predicted a CRP concentration that was 5% lower," said a statement from Northwestern University, whose experts took part in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
"Three to 12 months of breastfeeding predicted CRP levels that were 20–30% lower compared with individuals who were not breastfed."
The study found that breastfeeding had "the same or greater effect" as medicines on reducing CRP levels in young adults.
Chronic inflammation had long been linked to cardiovascular disease, but the causes of the little-understood condition remain unclear.