Is Breast Milk Healthy For Adults?

Is Breast Milk Healthy For Adults?


Apparently some adults prefer to drink breast
milk, but is that really what’s breast for them? Whatup my mammals, I’m Julian for DNews.
There’s a small community of adults who have taken to drinking human breast milk.
Some for the taste or pleasure, others for the supposed health benefits. While science
can’t dictate whether or not someone’s personal preferences are right or wrong, it
can debunk health claims, so let’s see if breast milk is the “superfood” some forums
claim it is. Some fitness forums claim human breast milk
is a good supplement for bulking routines because, they say, it has more nutritional
value than dairy and can help athletes recover from workouts faster. But breast milk’s
composition doesn’t totally agree with those claims. On average mature human milk is 0.8%-0.9%
protein, far less than whole milk’s 3.3%. As for caloric content, it’s slightly above
whole milk. Whole milk offers 62.6 kcal per 100 ml, and human milk is 60-75 kcal per 100
ml. Breast milk does have more lactose in it, around 7% while whole milk has about 4%,
so the higher levels of that carbohydrate may indeed help replenish energy stores faster.
By comparison though Gatorade is 13% carbohydrates, so the self-reported energy benefits are likely
a placebo effect. Another purported benefit of breast milk is
it’s easier to digest and has antibodies from the mother in it. With that in mind,
some chemotherapy patients have taken to drinking it as a source of nutrition and to bolster
their immune system. There’s a few problems with this line of thinking though: chemotherapy
can cause a lactase deficiency for some patients and because breast milk has more lactose in
it, it’s actually harder to digest. Then there’s the claim about antibodies. The
most common antibody in breast milk is immunoglobulin A. These antibodies protect surfaces of the
body like the nose, ears, eyes, breathing passages, digestive tract, and vagina. While
they may actually benefit the patient, they’re going to lose some effectiveness if the mother
lives elsewhere and so is exposed to different pathogens. Which brings us to a bigger problem. There are non-profit breast milk banks in
the United States, but they cater to infants who need milk and the cost of operation means
the milk can be expensive. There are sites like Only the Breast that allow mothers to
sell and ship their product to anyone directly. Since there’s no standard on how the milk
is packed and shipped, it’s often stored in a way that allows bacteria to contaminate
it. The New York Times found that 64% of samples from milk sharing sites had staph, 36% had
strep, and a whopping 74% would have failed milk bank criteria. Plus the milk is usually
unscreened or unpasteurized. A milk bank in San Jose, California that screens potential
donors had to turn away 3.3% of them because they tested positive for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis
B, hepatitis C, or human T-cell lymphotropic virus, which is a virus that can actually
cause cancer. If a mother has any of these, she can pass them on in her breast milk. That
is the absolute last thing immunocompromised chemo patients need, and if they’re buying
milk from unscreened donors, they’re taking a huge risk. So it looks like breast milk isn’t the wonder
food some health or fitness forums make it out to be. It’s absolutely top notch for
babies, but the benefits for adults are negligible and it can even be very harmful if it comes
from a bad source. As for the weirdness factor of drinking breast milk as an adult? Well
keep in mind adult humans couldn’t drink any milk until a genetic mutation about 12,000
years ago. And it’s still primarily a european thing. It’s why 95% of asians and almost
100% of native americans are lactose intolerant. So maybe reconsider that drinking cow boob
juice is pretty weird already, when you think about it.