Experts recommend mothers to breastfeed for at least one year for a child to fully enjoy its benefits. But according to a study featured on TIME, breastfeeding may also have a positive effect on mothers.

Researchers led by Dr. Melissa Bartick from Harvard Medical School ran a statistical model that simulated the health and experiences of two million women in the US from ages 15 to 70. They looked at factors such as number of children and deliveries, the duration of breastfeeding, and the chances of developing certain diseases, such as breast cancer, premenopausal ovarian cancer, hypertension, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes.

The numbers showed that if mothers properly breastfed their children for at least a year, they could hypothetically prevent up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, approximately 54,000 cases of hypertension, and almost 14,000 heart attacks every year.

“We need to do more to support women so they can breast-feed longer,” says Bartick. “There are thousands of needless cases of disease and death that could be prevented.”

(Photo by Toshimasa Ishibashi via Flickr Creative Commons)

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