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Breastmilk and cancer

(12 Posts)
Alieight Sat 04-Dec-10 00:40:58

x-posted with general health.

Two very close family friends have recently been diagnosed with cancer - the wife with pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to the lungs, and the husband with prostate cancer. These two people are very dear to me - they were my parents best friends and used to take me out almost every weekend from boarding school as my parents were abroad. They are part of my family, although are no blood relation. Their prognosis, particularly for the wife, is extremely poor.

I've seen a lot of information about the effects of breastmilk on various types of cancer, with clinical trials currently being run.

article here

clinical study here

Would it be extremely weird to offer them some of my breastmilk? (Am still feeding DS at 2.4). If I'm honest, I have no expectation that it will be some magical cure, and may not even help at all. I just can't help feeling that I'd always regret not offering, and obviously wouldn't be remotely offended if they refused.

I'm just not quite sure how to go about asking them - any advice?

duchesse Sat 04-Dec-10 00:44:43

Only if they come to that decision themselves. All you can do is give them the research. They might be wiling to try it, but may equally be utterly weirded out. I think it would a marvellously altruistic thing to do fwiw.

duchesse Sat 04-Dec-10 00:45:20

Strikes me the wife may need the faster intervention sad

Alieight Sat 04-Dec-10 01:02:10

She would - median survival for metastasized pancreatic cancer is around 2-6 months

I just feel so awful for them - the husband had a stroke about 3 years ago, and has just been getting back to his normal self. Then this year in June their son was diagnosed with a liver disorder and needed a transplant. His wife (their DIL) turned out to be a match, and was going to donate half her liver, but on going through all the transplant checks, they discovered she had cancer of the larynx. And then in October they find out (in the same week) about their own diagnoses. Just horrendous.

I wish I could do more to help practically - the husband is having daily radiotherapy and they currently have no car, but I live 150 miles away, so I can't even help with lifts to the hospital etc. I suppose I thought, well, this is something I could offer, if they wanted it.

duchesse Sat 04-Dec-10 10:21:00

Jeez, how awful for them. Poor people.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Sat 04-Dec-10 11:09:52

I can understand youur feeling of wanting to offer. I would feel the same.

Not sure how I'd go about it thouugh...maybe email them your links?

Goood on you...best wishes to them.

Alieight Sun 05-Dec-10 03:03:17

Thank you so much for all your replies. I've decided to write to them, including the articles / links and see what they want to do. They may well be revolted by the idea, or just plain don't want to, but at least I've offered. And so has my SIL, who is currently feeding her 4 month old.

organiccarrotcake Sun 05-Dec-10 10:31:44

I read an article yesterday about BM being given to ill or older people in Mongolia as a general health improver which makes sense.

I am a huge BM fan but even I don't see it as a cure-all, but it could certainly help to stave off secondary infections helping the body support itself better, and the cancer treatments are very interesting.

Lovely thought.

MumNWLondon Sun 05-Dec-10 17:28:05

If it really is such amazing stuff why aren't cancer patients offered BM either on NHS or by private medical insurance.

Alieight Sun 05-Dec-10 17:33:19

"If it really is such amazing stuff why aren't cancer patients offered BM either on NHS or by private medical insurance."

A couple of reasons. First is that research is still ongoing, and no easy method of delivery has been formulated. There are milk banks in the US who will offer cancer patients BM.

Second is lack of supply - donated milk supplies are very scarce, and the priority for use goes to infants in neonatal units. Unless you live fairly close to a milk bank (there are just 17 in the UK), they often do not have the resources to pick up the milk. In addition, donations of milk are relatively rare, and consequently the ready supply of donated BM is very low.

MumNWLondon Sun 05-Dec-10 18:51:45

Interesting... I suspect the delivery method could be worked out fairly easily but in terms of supply, I remember thinking when I went back to work, I work near a blood donation centre - I remember thinking - if they took breastmilk I could go every day at lunchtime. I think as well that if this was well known as making difference those considering weaning would be prepared to donate esp if they knew someone suffering from cancer.

I didn't express for DS2 as I couldn't be bothered to carry the milk & breastpump around, invest in decent breastpump, didn't want to pump in office etc etc, but if there had been a pop in milk bank probably would have kept it going for a few months.

arabellaandbaby Mon 06-Dec-10 11:00:40

Alieight, I really feel for you, and you are being extremely selfless in thinking the way you are. My mum passed away just 5 months ago from stomach cancer and my brother happened to come across this very Telegraph article on HAMLET whilst my mum was in the advanced stages of cancer. Since I was breastfeeding my then 3 month old daughter, my brother suggested that I give Mum some of my breastmilk. She declined it for her own reasons. And there's also the bit in the article that goes:

"...treatment was limited because it had to be injected in the exact site of the cancer cells.

"It could also work if doctors were able to inject the solution into the vein which carries blood directly to the site of the cancer," he said.

A simple pill or liquid solution would just be "metabolised" by the body as normal food, he added."

It seems to me to mean that simply drinking breastmilk would not make a difference, and that the cancer-killing substance would have to be extracted first then a doctor would have to inject the substance into a vein. It sounds like it could be a lot more complicated than it appears at first.

I really wish that breastmilk could be a miracle cure, because that would mean my Mum would still be here and my little girl who is now 9 months old would still have her wonderful grandma.

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