real life

Why this woman is letting her dad drink her breast milk.

British mum Jill Turner is breastfeeding her baby son Llewyn who was born in October last year. But Llewyn isn’t the only one drinking her milk. Turner expresses more than she needs, to give some to her father, Fred Whitelaw.

Whitelaw was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2015. He’s had two major operations to try to treat the cancer, as well as chemo. But the outlook for him is not good.

Turner, an admin assistant, was “devastated” by her father’s diagnosis. Then she read something that gave her an idea.

(Image: Twitter)

“I was researching online when I came across an article for alternative uses for breast milk,” Turner explains in Metro. “Since then my husband Kyle has used it on his eczema and we have also used it on Llewyn’s conjunctivitis. But when I mentioned to my family that it has links with cancer, they thought I was joking.”

Whitelaw was hesitant at first, but then realised he had nothing to lose. Turner bought a double pump, and her mum bought a small fridge for the bottles of expressed milk.

“For now, he has it in coffee, but I’m hoping he will also have it in his porridge if I can express enough,” Turner says. "So far he’s only been drinking it for a month, so we don’t know if it has helped in any way just yet. But he is having more tests done in a few weeks so it will be interesting to see what the results are.”

ADVERTISEMENT

However, UK cancer authorities don’t support Turner’s approach. “There is no evidence that drinking breast milk can treat bowel cancer,” Caroline Geraghty, Cancer Research UK’s senior cancer information nurse, tells The Sun.

“If a cancer patient wants to know whether a treatment that has not been prescribed is safe and could be helpful, they should discuss this with their doctor before taking it.”

The belief that breast milk can help cancer patients is widespread. Mothers’ Milk Bank in Australia only gives donated milk to babies, but a spokesperson has said there’s a demand for it from adult cancer patients.

Some are buying breastmilk online, even though studies of milk bought online has shown high levels of bacteria, exposing buyers to the risk of infection.

So does this belief have any basis in scientific fact?

In 2010, Assistant Professor Roger Karlsson from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden published research saying that a compound in breastmilk could kill cancer cells. However, he said the compound needed to be in a solution injected into the exact site of the cells. He said if it was taken by mouth it would be metabolised by the body as normal food.

Listen: Would you let someone “dry nurse” your baby? The girls discuss on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues...

As for Fred Whitelaw, his family were advised in February this year that there was no getting rid of his cancer.

“It is just a case of maintaining it to stop it spreading again and getting bigger,” Turner explained on a page set up to raise funds for cancer charities.

Whitelaw was placed on a stronger chemo and had a scan last month.

“Unfortunately the news wasn't good as the chemo hadn’t worked,” Turner added. “Therefore the cancer has grown again.”

Turner is just hoping her breastmilk will make “some sort of difference” to her father.

“I just want to do anything that I can to help and I don’t see the problem in giving my dad something that is natural.”

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???