Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Drinking breast milk kills cancer cells

Did you know that breast milk kills cancer cells?

While babies benefit from drinking breast milk, some people are now looking to mother's milk as a treatment for cancer. Inspired by Swedish research on the subject, a Massachusets man now credits the milk with his recovery to become cancer-free.

When Howard Cohen makes his smoothies, he adds fruit, yogurt, and milk - but in his case, it is breast milk, reports CBS station WBZ-TV's Dr. Mallika Marshall.

"When you drink it straight, it has a bit of a yucky oily under taste," said Cohen.

Cohen, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, came across Swedish research that found that mother's milk killed cancer cells in petrie dishes. He gets his supply from a milk bank - similar to a blood bank but for breast milk.

"We're noticing an increase in the number of patients who are adults and children who have a variety of types of cancer who are using human milk," said Pauline Sakamoto of the Mother's Milk Bank.

Leading specialists like Massachusets General Hospital's Dr. David Newburgh say the Swedish research is interesting, but that there is no scientific proof that milk can help cancer patients.

"I do think it's premature for adults to be drinking breast milk," said Newburgh. "It has not been fully tested yet and we like to be very careful not to use things in humans that we do not understand."

Dr. Pamela Berens with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine worries that adults using donor milk will delete an already limited supply. "Right now, we don't have enough breast milk for our donor milk banks for the premature infants who we have such wonderful data about the benefits."

Proven or not, Cohen is such a believer, that when his own cancer doctor would not give him a prescription required to get breast milk, he found a doctor who would. He says he is now cancer free.

"Initially I was drinking it every day. I cut back to two bottles a week," he said.

Breast milk from a milk bank runs on average $3 an ounce. Insurance does not cover the cost for adult consumption.

 So how about you guys? Would you drink breast milk from a friend or milk bank if you were diagnosed with cancer? How far would you go to get it? Would you pump for a friend or family member? Do you support milk banks shipping breast milk to adults?

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