London: It is already known to give babies the best start in life, but experts now say that breast milk may also hold the key to beating diseases -- from Alzheimer`s to cancer.
An international team says that breast milk contains stem cells that could potentially beat diseases from Alzheimer`s to cancer. The milk is rich in stem cells, which have chameleon-like properties found in those taken from embryos.
The milk could provide a ready and ethical source of stem cells, which are widely seen as a "repair kit" due to their potential to turn into any cell type in the body.
Cancer, blindness, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson`s diseases and paralysis could all potentially be healed by the power of "master cells", say the scientists.
Prof Foteini Hassiotou at the University of Western Australia, was quoted by the `Daily Mail ` newspaper as saying, "Breast milk offers a new exciting opportunity for stem cell therapies."
However, Prof Chris Mason at University College London said more proof is needed that the cells are as versatile as billed, but added: "If they are truly embryonic, this will be another way of getting stem cells that would not raise ethical concerns."
Even if they do not turn out to be as versatile as hoped, said Newcastle University stem cell scientist Lyle Armstrong, a woman could still bank stem cells from her milk and use them to help in the treatment of a disease such as diabetes later in life.
For instance, a woman could bank the stem cells from her milk and then use them to help in the treatment of a disease such as diabetes later in life.