Breastfeeding mothers may have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The risk of contracting the most common form of diabetes was cut 15 percent for each year a woman breastfed her child. A year-long period appeared to be the critical factor; women who breastfed a single child for a year had a lower risk of diabetes than women who breastfed two children for shorter periods totaling a year.

The study did not pinpoint a reason why breastfeeding reduced the risk, but researchers theorized that breastfeeding changes metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Mothers who breastfeed for longer periods may also have better health habits in general.

“We’re talking about an intervention that doesn’t cost anything, has no side effects and has other potential benefits,” Alison Steube, the study’s lead author, told HealthDay News. “We found that breastfeeding is really good for mothers.”

The study relied on data drawn from two nurses’ health studies that included more than 150,000 women and is the first to find a link between breastfeeding and diabetes. Other studies have shown that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Other News to Cheer This Week

  • Kenyan voters rejected a draft constitution Monday by 57 percent and handed a political defeat to the nation’s president, Mwai Kibaki, The London Times reported. Women’s rights advocates had sharply criticized the constitution for failing to adequately provide for women.

    Although the document promised an increase in women’s representation in government, it provided no time frame for when that would occur and relied on future legislation to implement the provisions. Leaders of the opposition campaign, symbolized by an orange, have called for a new constitution to be written.

  • The United Nations Development Fund for Women has issued $1.8 million in grants to groups in 24 developing nations to mark the International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women, Nov. 25. The grants went to initiatives that are focused on changing national laws and policies to help end violence against women.

    For example, a Central American regional program will analyze domestic violence legislation. Nonprofits in Mali will work on new legislation banning female genital mutilation. And “female-friendly” police and other legal procedures will be created in Bhutan.

For more information:

Journal of the American Medical Association
“Duration of Lactation and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes”:

Center for Health and Gender Equity:


The Bush administration has extended its global gag rule to international AIDS prevention funding, according to the Maryland-based Center for Health and Gender Equity. The gag rule will affect a $193 million, five-year project for AIDS-HIV prevention programs in Kenya and requires organizations that seek funding to adhere to the administration’s policy that the health organization not provide abortions, provide any information about safe abortions to women or lobby for change in their nation’s abortion laws. In Kenya, complications from illegal abortions are a leading killer of married women in their 20s and 30s.

Family planning, maternal and child health programs are the “first responders” for women and girls who have HIV-AIDS, who make up 60 percent of infected cases in sub-Saharan Africa, said the center’s executive director, Jodi Jacobson. “The administration has broken its own written commitment not to subject global AIDS funds to these onerous restrictions.”

In August 2003, the Bush administration exempted AIDS funds from what is called the global gag rule, although most other women’s health programs overseen by the State Department are included.

Other News to Jeer This Week

  • Domestic violence against women is widespread and is taking a toll on public health, according to a study released Thursday by the World Health Organization. The study interviewed 24,000 women in 10 countries.

    “This study shows that women are more at risk from violence at home than in the street and this has serious repercussions for women’s health,” said the organization’s director-general, Dr. Lee Jong-wook.

    The study found that between one-quarter and one-half of the women had been physically injured by their partners, and that rates of domestic violence showed regional variations. In Japan, 15 percent of women have been either physically or sexually assaulted in their lifetime; in Ethiopia, the rate is 71 percent. Between 4 and 12 percent of women had been beaten while pregnant.

    The study also found that abused women were twice as likely to have poor physical and mental health problems and may face a greater risk of infection from sexually-transmitted diseases.

  • A majority of women in their 20s and 30s believe that being a woman will hurt their chances of success, according to a survey from the Forte Foundation of Austin, Texas. Almost 95 percent of women in business believe boys’ networks still exist and 86 percent are concerned about how to balance work with family. A majority say that positive female role models are critical to the success of women in business, but 77 percent said there were not enough role models available.

  • African Canadian women are among the poorest in Canada, according to the Ottawa-based Canadian Association of Social Workers. An analysis of 2001 census figures indicated that black women in Canada earned 57 percent of the average earnings of Canadian men and 79 percent of black Canadian males’ average earnings.

Jennifer Thurston is associate editor of Women’s eNews.

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