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Breastmilk and cancer

(8 Posts)
Alieight Sat 04-Dec-10 00:41:02

x-posted with breast and bottlefeeding.
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?

vintageteacups Sat 04-Dec-10 14:16:59

I would simply talk to them, explain the research you've found and say that if they felt that it's something they would like to consider, you would be happy to dinate your milk.

Then explain to them that you completely understand if they don't like the idea.

If they are very close to you, then it really doesn't matter; they will know you are only thinking of

USoRight Sat 04-Dec-10 17:21:03

People with any cancer and particulary terminal (as I think the lady's is) will often go to the ends of the earth for a cure.

I can't see anything wrong with offering your milk, they will be touched that you care. Show them the research. Does it specify the amounts etc? Either way there is no harm done. I think it is a lovely offer.

BarbaraWindsor Sat 04-Dec-10 17:46:30


I know exactly how you feel. my closest friend died earlier this year from cancer and the drive to do something, the idea I might have the answer, be able to save her, was immense.

I'm not entirely sure where it comes from but I recognise this from your post, and I have every sympathy.

However in the article you linked to it explains that given as normal food, the compound will simply be metabolised and will not reach the cancer. The doctors need to isolate the bit that works and inject it directly into the tumour.

So in this instance, I think you would be making a kind but sadly ineffective gesture.
I'm sorry to say this.

I know you want to do something. Being there for them in whatever way you can is all that is expected of you. Please don't torture yourself with imagined future regrets.

I do understand, and I hope I haven't made you feel silly, I was in a very similar position very recently.

I am so sorry that these dear friends of yours are ill.

vintageteacups Sat 04-Dec-10 19:19:06

The thing BW, if she asks and they say no, she's in the position she's in now.

However, if she asks and they say yes, then why couldn't her milk be injected into the tumours? Or if not her milk, other, donor milk.

Sometimes doing something rather than doing nothing is the best option. At least then, OP won't regret never asking them.

ragged Sat 04-Dec-10 19:23:41

Go 4 it,op. Odds are that they R considering far weirder treatments.

BarbaraWindsor Sat 04-Dec-10 19:54:53

Yes, VT I take your point. It's just I don't think it's that simple.

It would probably be very hard to get the consultant to agree to try this and it would have to be done as part of a larger study, because there would be complicated issues such as quantities and so forth to consider.

It wouldn't just be the breastmilk, it would involve isolating a part of it, and concentrating it into something workable.

Sorry, to be so depressing about it but I have been here and been through this kind of suggestion and when you are in a situation where conventional treatments are failing, or not even being tried, there are very few doctors willing even to countenance something like this.

We tried, we failed, we feel bitterly sad about it. All sorts of things we researched and thought would work - even things currently in the pipeline and going out to expanded access protocols, so at a really advanced stage of trial, were really really hard to organise. And thus too little, too late.

It's tragic, but it's how it works. You can't even pay doctors to do these things. sad

I'm sure the OP's friends wil just be so grateful she is there and wants to help them.

Alieight Sun 05-Dec-10 03:08:28

Thank you so much for all your replies. Thanks you as well BW for putting the negative side across so well and sensitively. I've decided however 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, it will probably be of no help (although another article in the journal of human lactation has thrown up some interesting results re improvement of chemo side effects and reduced PSA count in prostate cancer), but the offer will be there, should they want to take it up.

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