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Breastfeeding linked to cholesterol

Adults have lower cholesterol levels if they are breastfed as babies, research suggests.

Experts believe that offering breast milk in the first few months of life can help keep cholesterol levels low in adulthood and combat associated conditions such as heart disease.

The study, from experts at St George's, University of London, was based on reviewing data for more than 17,000 people.

Adults who had been breastfed had a lower overall total blood cholesterol level than those who were given formula.

The meta-analysis is being published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Dr Chris Owen, who led the study, said: "The paper concludes that initial breastfeeding, particularly when exclusive, is associated with lower blood cholesterol concentrations in later life, compared to initial formula feeding.

"The results also suggest that formula feeds should match the context of breast milk as closely as possible - any attempt to reduce the fat content of formula feeds could be counter-productive."

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: "The study suggests that what we choose to feed our babies partially 'programmes' their cholesterol levels in later life - with breastfed babies ending up with slightly lower levels than formula fed infants.

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British Heart Foundation

Did you know that breastfeeding could keep cholesterol levels low? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"No, I had no idea this was true. I ask mums if they breastfeed and now have yet another reason to advocate it." - VR Adams