Treating Cancer Using Breast Milk

In a search of good health there is a controversial alternative cancer treatment using something that usually goes to babies.

Breast milk is filled with all sorts of unique nutrients to help babies grow. For mothers who can't breast feed, there are breast milk banks where donated milk is stored and sold.

But now, breast milk is not just for babies as cancer patients have started to drink it.

Pauline Sakamoto of Mothers’ Milk Bank said they have sold breast milk to 60 cancer patients.

“It may not mean that the cancer is cured, but we're seeing a dramatic change in the quality of life for some of them,” she said.

Howard Cohen says it worked for him after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Instead of traditional treatments, he turned to purchased breast milk that he mixes with fruit and yogurt.

“If you drink it straight, it has a bit of a yucky, oily under taste,” he said.

Some Swedish research says a protein in mother's milk can kill cancer cells in Petri dishes.

“That doesn't translate to being effective in humans,” Dr. Michelle Qaqundah said.

Dr. Qaqundah is the Director of Naturopathic Medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. While there are some natural alternative cancer treatments, she said breast milk has a long way to go.

“There's a potential for that, but there’s really no way of knowing until we study it in humans,” she said.

Dr. Pamela Berens, with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, said she is concerned that adult use of donor milk could drain 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,” she said.

Proven benefits or not, Cohen said he is cancer free and plans to keep drinking his special milk.

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

A doctor's prescription is required for donor breast milk. It can cost as much as $3 an ounce and is not covered by insurance for adult use.

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