Could Breastmilk Kill Cancer?

62638b300cde11e2939222000a1e87b7_7We are very aware that breast milk is the recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and many other groups as the best food for babies. We know that it is easy to digest, contains antibodies to protect baby from disease, promotes mother baby bonding, that breastfeeding is portable and FREE! You can probably add many other benefits to the list. Maybe that would be a good trivia game for a baby shower – list all the benefits of breastfeeding that you can think of!

As addition to the well-known benefits, research is continually finding other lesser known benefits. These are some interesting studies that I have recently reviewed. One published last year here, says it may help protect against cancer.

Researchers took samples of colostrum, the first milk available to newborns, and of mature breast milk from new mothers. Researchers then obtained samples of blood from healthy women, and various ready-to-feed infant formulas. The colostrum, mature breast milk, blood and formula were then all tested to measure their level of TRAIL. The researchers found that colostrum and breast milk contained 400- and 100-fold, respectively, higher levels of TRAIL than blood. No TRAIL was detected in the formula.

“The important role of breastfeeding in the prevention of certain childhood cancers, such as lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and neuroblastoma, has been previously demonstrated,” wrote the authors. “However, endogenous soluble TRAIL represents a strong candidate to explain the overall biological effect of breastfeeding against cancer.” Science Daily April 23, 2012.

Enjoy breastfeeding your baby and remember that science is just beginning to understand all the wonders of breast milk!

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, contact Beaumont’s Parenting Program for resources.

Also, check out this valuable information about the first few weeks with your baby.

–Mary Anne Kenerson RN, Coordinator, Prenatal & Family Education at Beaumont 

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