Breastmilk used in cancer fight

By Kathy Sundstrom
Posted with permission.
Read more from Sundstrom at the Sunshine Coast Daily.

A Sunshine Coast mother believes the breastmilk she has fed her gravely ill nine-year-old daughter since October has contributed toward substantial improvement in the youngster’s health.

The girl was given a bleak prognosis by doctors in October when they found she had a life-threatening tumor. The mother’s close friend, a Sunshine Coast midwife, suggested that they try breastmilk as a treatment option. She said she had recently finished studying its unique health benefits.

“Six months before the child was diagnosed, I was doing research as part of my midwifery and read that breastmilk contains a protein that causes cell death in malignant tumors,” the midwife said. “I thought I would like to research this as an innovative treatment and when the child was diagnosed, I suggested they try it. There was nothing to lose and plenty to gain.”

The midwife went to an Australian Breastfeeding Association meeting in Maroochydore and asked mothers if they would be prepared to donate their milk to help. She also advertised for breastmilk in the Sunshine Coast Daily classifieds.

The child was given 500ml of breast milk each day mixed with fruit in a smoothie. “Since those first weeks, donations have grown through word of mouth,” she said. “There are so many generous wonderful breastfeeding mothers on the Coast who will do anything to help. We are extremely grateful to all those mothers who have donated their ‘magic milk’ as we are certain that it has been of substantial benefit.”

An examination of the child in Brisbane on Friday showed that there had been a significant turnaround in the girl’s condition. She is now looking at going back to school. The breastmilk was used with other alternative and traditional treatments. The girl would require ongoing check-ups, but “the doctor was very happy with her results.”

The Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Lactation Resource Center manager Kate Mortensen said no research had been undertaken in Australia on the medical benefits of breastmilk. It was however a documented fact that breastfed babies are less likely to develop leukemia, and incidences of breast cancer were less in mothers who had breastfed. “There have been anecdotal reports (of treating cancer with breastmilk), but no formal research has been undertaken,” Ms Mortensen said.

“In the laboratory it has been found something in breastmilk knocks off cancer cells. In America, they have donor milk banks and you can get it on prescription. There could be great potential for research.”
The midwife encouraged anyone trying breast milk as a medical treatment to document their results. She can be contacted through the Daily.

Last night, the little girl’s father thanked the midwife and the mothers who had given his family help and support.

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