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Monday, May 21, 2007There was a story that ran on CBS 5 in San Jose earlier this month that talked about Howard Cohen and his breast milk smoothies. Cohen drinks a fruit, yogurt and breast milk smoothie each day after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He read about a study that showed that breast milk kills cancer cells. He started off drinking the breast milk of a friend, but soon turned to the Mother's Milk Bank of San Jose with a prescription from a doctor in hand.
He's not the first to try it. The San Jose Milk bank has shipped breast milk to dozens of adult cancer patients. Our milk bank here in Columbus has done the same.
Not everyone is a fan of the idea though.
Dr. David Newberg, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, put is this way: "I do think that it's premature for adults to be drinking breast milk. It hasn't been fully tested yet and we like to be very careful not to use things in humans that we don't understand."
Umm...ok. Does anyone else think it's funny that Dr. Newberg speaks like breast milk is this mysterious unknown force that might hurt you if you drink it? I mean who knows for certain if it kills cancer, but I don't think anyone can argue that at worst, it will simply have no impact. Breast milk from a screened donor is not going to HARM anyone, no matter what the age. It just might not help them.
On the other hand, one of the other doctors interviewed makes a very good point.
Dr. Pamela Berens with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine ... worries adults using donor milk will deplete the already limited supply, commenting that "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."
Honestly? That's my primary concern.
We don't have enough breast milk now for the babies in the NICUs across the country that desperately need it. Babies for whom breast milk means the difference between life and death.
While I'm fascinated with the idea that breast milk could help fight, or even cure cancer, I have a hard time justifying using up the very limited supply when there are lots of other treatments available for adult cancer patients.
That's not to say that I wouldn't pump for an adult friend with cancer if they asked me to. I'm just not keep on using our limited screened donor milk for that purpose.
But the thing that I find strangest about the story?
Mr. Cohen's quote that says:
"It doesn't taste all that pleasant. It's a bit oily and there's an after-taste."
I thought breast milk tasted like cantaloupe. (Anyone else remember that Friend's episode?)
Seriously though, I've tasted it...licking it off a finger, but I've never actually taken a gulp, so I have no idea what it tastes like. I just have a hard time believing that it's "oily."
It is pretty darn high in fat content though, so I suppose someone used to skim milk might find it to be a bit more fatty and could refer to that as oily...
That quote just really rubs me the wrong way though.
So how about you guys? Would you drink breast milk from a friend or milk bank if you were diagnosed with cancer? How far would you go to get it? Would you pump for a friend or family member? Do you support milk banks shipping breast milk to adults?
And seriously, is breastmilk "oily?"
Labels: Milk Banking and Sharing