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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

breast milk - may provide clues about potential cancer risk

Recently a group of researchers announced that breast milk may itself provide clues about a woman's risk for getting breast cancer. Certain cancer-indicator proteins were found in lactating mothers' breast milk - and their presence predicted the womens' breast cancer risk - albeit the study was a small group but it had encouraging results. Previously, any detectable cancer cells have only been found using invasive procedures (biopsies, etc) . Scientists wonder if the study will be helpful in advancing the early detections of breast cancer in a very non-invasive way - analyzing samples of the lactating mother's breast milk.

This study makes me wonder whether these findings may even help assess/prevent the detection of a new offsprings' long-terms cancer risks - those long after the baby is done breastfeeding. Also, will the presence or absence of the protein help prevent or advance the new baby's risk for breast cancer?

Breast milk has been found to be immensely rich in many vital nutrients and ingredients; these advance health, wellbeing, and growth in breastfeeding babies. Sadly most of these "hidden" advantages are devoid in manufactured formula products. Researchers are just beginning to see - for example- that ingesting breast milk as a baby that is naturally high in cholesterols helps reduce potential cholesterol-related diseases later in life! Similarly, I wonder if ingesting cancer-related proteins increase or decrease a breastfed baby's future cancer risks? Or does it only indicate a lactating mother's risks? . An open question but ripe for further study.

Don't you find it ironic how science has advanced our lives in so many ways while also curtailing our fuller appreciation for the natural interconnectedness between body, mind, and soul? How has it come to be that any of us fail to appreciate breast milk for its life saving capacity? Isn't it odd that we have to study breast milk first in order to prove its worth - but even then we fail to insist that it's a baby's right to breastfeed? When will we appreciate the fact that if God made it that way it really can't be improved upon? This can be said about other body/mind/soul connections as well.

On a different note: last Sunday's Gospel talked about the greatest proof offered by God with regard to His authentic love for each of us. That proof was provided to us by His ready acceptance of being subjugated to an earthly body that had to suffer and die a very unhumane death - and simply for our good not His! It must have been a very great insult to have to take on the form of a lower being (human) while having to suffer and die a bandit's death! Yet it wasn't regarded by Him an insult simply because it proved His great love for us.

Similarly, taking on the form of pregnancy is a great insult as well. With pregnancy we take on a form that is difficult to cope with- pregnant moms don't particularly like their body shape, their lack of sleep, weight gain, and waddling gait when pregnant.

Yet it isn't a great insult at all! In fact, pregnant mothers have the opportunity to show the world that they are imitating Christ's Great Insult which provides the tangible and only real proof of unconditional love! We are willing to accept this insult for the greater good of someone else. It also provides proof of our love and belief in God's order of creation. Looked at solely through the lens of physical health and well being of a woman, pregnancy is indeed an insult to her being. Yet, this same insult provides her the unique opportunity to be transformed in a way not possible another way. She sustains the pregnancy out of unconditional love for God, husband, self, and the newly formed human life growing within her. Like Christ's transformation; pregnancy has the potential to transform us into a more loving, more humane person.

Abortion is proof positive that the pregnancy can be viewed as simply an insult that does not have to be born - it is also proof positive that humans continue to deny the connectedness between body, mind and soul or appreciation of authentic love! It is proof positive that Christ's freely given love is often rejected - that is the great insult.

Hope your Easter is Blessed and Grace-filled.