(NaturalNews) The health benefits of human breast milk are vast, and researchers from Sweden have uncovered the presence of yet another substance in breast milk with incredible cancer-fighting abilities. As reported in a study published in the journal PLoS One, the substance, known as "Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumor cells" (HAMLET), effectively kills cancer cells, which in turn helps provide lasting protection against tumor development in young children.
Back in the late 1980s, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that breast-fed children are far less likely than children fed formula and other unnatural foods to develop cancer. Now, it has become a little clearer why this is the case, as breast milk contains unique compounds like HAMLET that specifically target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells to grow and multiply as normal.
"Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer, and the researchers are now going on to study its effects on skin cancer, tumors in the mucous membranes and brain tumors," explains Science Daily about the discovery. "HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells."
Scientists originally discovered HAMLET on accident while researching the antibacterial properties of human breast milk. Several years later, researchers from Lund University and the University of Gothenburg, both in Sweden, found that HAMLET contains a protein and a fatty acid that contribute to its cancer-fighting effects. And further followup research has revealed that the substance may actually form in the acidic environment of babies' stomachs, the natural byproduct of breast milk consumption.
"HAMLET is produced by combining alpha-lactalbumin in the milk and oleic acid which is found in babies' stomachs," explained Assistant Professor Roger Karlsson from the University of Gothenburg to the U.K.'s Telegraph about the findings. "So breast feeding has been linked to actually reducing the risk of cancer in babies. HAMLET also triggers some of the cell's apoptotic pathways -- apoptosis is programmed cell death."
Breast milk may help treat cancer in adults as well
But young children may not be the only people who can benefit from consuming breast milk. Human trials involving just the HAMLET component of breast milk have revealed that it can effectively treat male bladder cancer. Patients with bladder cancer who received injections of HAMLET experienced a reduction in cancer tumor size after just a few days of treatment.
"A pilot study of bladder cancer patients were injected with a HAMLET solution through a catheter," Prof. Karlsson is quoted as saying to the Telegraph. "The solution killed cancer cells and the size of the tumors actually reduced within five days."
Related studies conducted over the years have found that other natural compounds in breast milk help inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells as well. A 1994 study published in the journal Cancer Research, for instance, found that the lactoferrin in breast milk inhibits the growth of tumors in mice. And another study published the same year in the journal Medical Hypothesis found that the fatty acids in breast milk also help deter cancer growth.
Additionally, reports have surfaced over the years of people actually using human breast milk to cure their own cancers. Several years ago, for instance, a man allegedly cured his own prostate cancer by drinking a little bit of breast milk every day. And in 2009, it was reported by ABC News that a U.K. man took daily doses of his own daughter's breast milk to help treat an allegedly terminal case of colon cancer that spread to his liver and lymph nodes.