Ladies, hold on to the girls! You may have a cure for cancer in the palm of your hands. Although clearly controversial and noted with caution by doctors and exhausted, thirsty women everywhere attached to pumps, research has shown breastmilk may have therapeutic benefits in cancer treatment.
The news is grounded in a Swedish study where proteins in breastmilk actually zapped cancer cells housed in a petri dish and also reduced tumor growth in lab animals. There’s been some buzz around a cream made of breastmilk treating warts (eww), which builds on the mama-to-mama advice we’ve all heard about mother’s milk healing diaper rash. This research, however, could hold much more impact for the larger health community. While doctors, including one with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medecine, warn that there is not enough significant scientific backing to send people running for the boob (or at least the bottle), I think it is completely understandable that the possibility of a natural remedy would stir the hope of many cancer patients who face or who’ve already undergone the pain and stress of chemical treatment.
There’s also some worry that adults may deplete the supply of donations typically reserved for premature infants at milk banks. Also, at three bucks an ounce (that would never in a gazillion years be covered by health insurance), breastmilk is not necessarily an affordable option for those willing to whip up a kiwi-mango breastmilkshake (or might strawberry banana be better?). I am very interested to see what (and if) research follows and until then, feel pretty proud of being able to nourish a child and possible take on a major health threat with my breasts. Yeaaaahhhhhhh, lactation!