Two men have claimed that they are drinking human breast milk in a Netflix documentary series to reach their health goals. Both the men, Jameson 'JJ' Ritenour, an amateur bodybuilder, and Howard Cohen, a prostate cancer survivor appeared in the American docu-series called (Un)Wel, which is about the wellness industry.
While Ritenour claimed that breast milk is a natural supplement to lose excessive fat from the body, Cohen—who has been drinking it for several years—said that it kept him cancer-free. But there is no evidence that proves whether these claims are true.
Unusual Health Diet
As per health experts, breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalization risks compared to formula-fed infants. Through this process, not only antibodies and other germ-protection factors pass from a mother to the baby, but also strengthen the immune system. But how breast milk can help adults is still unclear.
In the docu-series, Ritenour explained about this bizarre and unusual health drink. He said, "If I wanna grow and be the best that I can, I'm going to eat like a baby; I'm going to sleep like a baby," and if breast milk is a part of that process, "then it's definitely an edge I'm going to take advantage of."
Ritenour said a few years ago that he was "looking for an edge" and some "more natural source of nourishment." Then he heard about athletes supplementing with breast milk. At that time his partner Melissa—who is the mother of his children—had excess breast milk and then he decided to try the unusual way of being healthy.
"I decided to put it in my shakes and kind of see what happened from there," he said. "I had a free supply of it, and I could just reach in the fridge." But the relationship between Ritenour and Melissa did not last long and as a result, he had to stop the bizarre practice because of which he lost his well-shaped body.
He once found a mother on Facebook and bought breast milk from her. Ritenour believed that it was giving him the edge he wanted, and he even felt more energetic. But he admitted that he wasn't sure whether it was just psychological. Even Ritenour's trainer agreed that "the vitamins from the breast milk have really helped him."
However, the Netflix episode revealed that in Mongolia some professional wrestlers also drink human milk during training as they believe the drink gives them a competitive edge.
Cohen, who is a cancer survivor, started drinking breast milk over 20 years ago after he read an article on a study that claimed in breast milk, a special substance called HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells) destroyed cancer cells in a lab. He claimed that drinking breast milk helped to drop his PSA levels, which is a measure of prostate cancer risk and they elevated again when he stopped getting breast milk from a neighbor.
Later, Cohen convinced his doctors to give him a prescription to get human milk at a local milk bar, and then he started to drink it again that helped to control the PSA levels. He claimed that after he started drinking breast milk, cancer has remained undetectable for years.
Some early research showed that bladder cancer patients who were given HAMLET apparently flushed out dead cancer cells in their urine.
The Risk Factors
Dr. Sarah Keim, an epidemiologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital, told the Nexflix show's producers that there are some adults online who are buying milk for either fitness purpose or other health reasons but "there is really very little evidence this is beneficial."
The Nationwide Children's Hospital had conducted a study which revealed that among 102 samples of online purchased breast milk, 75 percent had pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria.
Anders Hakansson, a professor of experimental infection medicine at Lund University in Sweden, who conducted the study cited by Cohen, said that the problem with drinking breastmilk is "it's a protein, and usually, proteins are digested in the gastrointestinal tract. So, whether it would actually reach the tumor out in the body somewhere ... we don't know."