Breastfeeding hormone associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk

Women with higher levels of prolactin—a hormone produced during breastfeeding—may be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

In a study of more than 8,600 American women, led by Jun Li, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researchers found that higher (but still normal) levels of prolactin were associated with a reduced likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes during a follow-up period of 22 years.

“Prolactin is a multi-function hormone—it is not only related to pregnancy and breastfeeding, it also plays an important role in many other biological functions, like metabolism, immune regulation and water balance,” said Li in an October 11, 2018 article in Health Day.

High prolactin levels have previously been associated with increased breast cancer risk and insulin resistance. “It’s too early to tell if altering prolactin concentrations is a suitable way for diabetes prevention. Future studies are needed to find out the mechanism and come up with practical strategies,” said Li.

Read the Health Day article: Does Breastfeeding Hormone Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes?