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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breast Milk can KILL cancer cells

We all know that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and other types of cancer. But a study has come out showing that a particular component of breast milk can KILL cancer cells. Click here for an abstract of the study (Thanks Jenny Ang for the link!). The substance known as HAMLET was found to kill 40 cancer cells in laboratory experiments. As reported in this article:

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Further studies showed that HAMLET comprises a protein and a fatty acid that are both found naturally in breast milk. So far, however, it has not been proven that the HAMLET complex is spontaneously formed in the milk. It is speculated, however, that HAMLET can form in the acidic environment of the babies´ stomachs. Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer, and the researchers are now going on to study its effect on skin cancer, tumours in the mucous membranes and brain tumours. Importantly, HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are focusing on how HAMLET can be taken up into tumour cells. The researchers, Roger Karlsson, Maja Puchades and Ingela Lanekoff, are attempting to gain an in-depth understanding of how the substance interacts with cell membranes, and their findings were recently published in the prestigious journal PLoS One.

Earlier, I read that long term breastfeeding is tied to more aggressive cancer. Although breastfeeding was reduces risks of cancer, it also stimulates prolactin which promotes tumor growth. BUT, the study authors themselves admit that "the relation between breast-feeding, prolactin and breast cancer is complex and not fully understood."
Women who breast-feed for six months or more face a higher risk of developing the most aggressive types of breast cancer, but it's not clear whether there's a cause-and-effect relationship, a new study finds.

Researchers also don't know if these women are more likely to die of cancer than others. Overall, breast-feeding is thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Aside from fight breast cancer cells and reducing cancer risks, breast milk was found to also fight acne with one of its component - lauric acid.

American scientists found that a component of mother's milk, called lauric acid, which also is found in coconut oil, had acne-fighting qualities.

They found the new treatment has no side effects because it comes from natural products unlike current available treatments which can cause redness and burning.

The miracles of breastmilk are really astounding - from health to aesthetic purposes, new benefits are continuously being discovered - all the more reason to call it liquid gold.

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