The report, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests that the link may be to do with certain biological effects of breastfeeding and that longer periods of breastfeeding lowered the overall risk.
Previous studies have established that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of other diseases but until now little has been done to examine the impact of breastfeeding duration on Alzheimer’s risk.
Dr Molly Fox, from the department of biological anthropology at the University of Cambridge, led the study.
Although researchers used data gathered from a very small group of 81 British women, they say they observed a highly significant and consistent correlation between breastfeeding and Alzheimer’s, although the connection was much less pronounced in women who already had a history of dementia in their family.
The findings may point towards new directions for fighting the global Alzheimer’s epidemic – especially in developing countries where cheap, preventative measures are desperately needed.