Substance in Breast Milk Kills Cancer Cells
A substance found in breast milk has been shown to kill cancer cells. The naturally occurring substance is a mixture of a protein and a fatty acid. Researchers are calling the substance HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells).
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HAMLET was discovered accidentally by researchers studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Laboratory experiments have established that HAMLET is effective against 40 different kinds of cancer. In one human experiment, patients with bladder cancer who were given HAMLET later excreted dead cancer cells in their urine.
HAMLET targets malignant cells only, and does not effect healthy cells. The substance works remarkably quickly, with cancer cells starting to die off within an hour. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden are now focusing on how HAMLET interacts with cell membranes, and how it can be taken up into tumor cells.
So far it has not been proven that the HAMLET complex is spontaneously formed in breast milk. Researchers speculate that HAMLET may form in the acidic environment of babies' stomachs.
The research opens up some exciting possibilities in terms of cancer treatment, and adds to the list of the health benefits of breastfeeding. As evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding grows, more and more mothers are determined to breast feed their infants.
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