Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, etc., are the major causes of mortality in the world, notably in low- and middle-income countries. A growing body of evidence suggests that NCDs have a complex etiology resulting from the interaction of genetic factors, gender, age, ethnicity, and the environmental factors. It is well-documented that chronic diseases in adulthood origins in early life. In recent years, much attention has been focused on primordial and primary prevention of NCD risk factors. There are many biological and epidemiological studies on beneficial effects of breastfeeding during infancy on chronic diseases in adulthood, particularly on hypertension, obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and cardiovascular diseases. This review article aims to summarize the current literature on the long-term effects of breastfeeding on prevention of NCDs and their risk factors. The current literature is controversial about these effects; however, a growing body of evidence suggests that breastfeeding has protective roles against obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type II diabetes mellitus during adulthood. In addition to its short-term benefits, encouraging breastfeeding can have long-term beneficial health effects at individual and population levels.
Keywords: Breastfeeding; chronic diseases; diabetes; dyslipidemia; hypertension; obesity; prevention.