It would seem that if it prevents breastfed infants from contracting certain diseases and illness that it just may do the same for adults as well. In fact, there are some people who are using this controversial form of nourishment to help guard against certain illnesses and even to help fight certain diseases and conditions, like cancer, Chrohn’s disease, acne, leukemia and diabetes.
So, is there a real benefit?
While there is no documented evidence specifically on using breast milk in adults, many believe that breast milk can heal or help conditions such as cancer, Chrohn’s disease, infections, rashes, and more.
In 1995, scientists at the Lund University used a compound found in breast milk called alpha-lactalbumin to kill brain tumor cells in a test tube. It seemed to have worked. The same research team, in 2004, used the breast milk compound to destroy many warts caused by HPV, creating the possibility that it could have implications for the treatment of cervical cancer, which is linked to the Human Papiloma Virus, HPV.
Howard Cohen, diagnosed with prostate cancer, drinks breast milk in smoothies and believes it has helped put this cancer into remission.
A woman named Patty uses breast milk to help treat her 15 year old son for Chrohn’s disease. She claims that using the breast milk has helped control her son’s dietary habits and other symptoms, so that he could again return to normal weight. Many Chrohn’s disease patients suffer weight loss from frequent bowel movements and other dietary symptoms.
In 2010, a Swedish team of researchers reported that the sizes of bladder tumors were reduced just 5 days after patients were injected with a breast milk compound. The team at Gothenburg University has been looking at the antibiotics properties of breast milk when a researcher noticed that cancerous lung cells in a test tube died on contact with breast milk. They than isolated the active compound - a protein called alpha-lactalbumin.
Breast milk is already been used by many as a topical agent for many different skin ailments. A science student at the University of California recently discovered that the lauric acid in breast milk reduces the irritation and spots, and has developed an acne cream from breast milk; the cream uses tiny gold particles to carry lauric acid into pores where its antimicrobial properties fight bacteria that cause acne.
Breast milk is a popular treatment, in Nigeria, for allergic conjunctivitis (Apollo) – a few drops of breast milk on the swollen conjunctiva is said to bring quick symptomatic relieve and resolution of the inflammation.
The extra-ordinary ability of breast milk in attacking rogue cells could be the reason breast milk appears to protect babies from all sorts of illnesses. Researches have shown that breast fed babies have reduced risk of many adult illnesses, including cancer.
Is there any possible risk?
The main risk that comes to mind for the use of breast milk by adults is that if the milk used was from an unknown source, there might be a possibility of contracting a disease. Even if the breast milk is from a milk bank, they do not know the source or whether the donor has diseases or not. Though breast milk banks usually screen their donors, there are risks of inaccuracies as with other tests. There could be other risks, but since little or no research has been done on adults using breast milk, it would be impossible to say for sure what the other risks may be present.
Another problem lies in the fact that if an adult have the need for breast milk and knows someone who is lactating, they may not be comfortable asking that person and if they do ask that person, she may not always be willing to donate her milk for that purpose. That’s when the adult will have to seek out alternatives like milk banks which may not provide breast milk to an adult with or without a prescription, and breast milk bank services is only available in a few developed countries.
Today, some patients suffering from immunological diseases – such as HIV, leukemia or hepatitis – or those others receiving therapy that reduces the immune system such as chemotherapy, have drunk breast milk in the hope that it can help adults, just as it helps sick babies.
However, when deciding whether or not this is an option for you, all factors must be considered, including what your family and friends thinks of this line of treatment, your cultural background and how to source for the breast milk.
Also, consult your doctor – he or she will be able to tell you whether it’s good for you or not.