Camel Milk for Colon Cancer
If the idea of drinking camel milk seems strange to you, how about camel milk as medicine? Scientists have found that a component of camel milk may play a significant role in colon cancer, a disease that is diagnosed in more than 102,000 people per year in the United States alone.
What’s special about camel milk?
Camels may not be plentiful in the United States (there are about 3,000, according to the American Camel Coalition), but in many parts of Africa and the Middle East, they are a common sight. Although they are a mode of transportation, camels also are a source of nutritious milk and, in recent years, that milk has been the subject of research for medicinal purposes.
One such use came to light in a new study in which researchers found that a component of camel milk, called lactoferrin, may stop the growth of colon cancer cells. Lactoferrin has antioxidant properties and also binds with iron, which could prevent DNA damage associated with cancer development.
In the laboratory, scientists applied camel milk lactoferrin to HCT-116 colon cancer cells at various concentrations. At concentrations of 3 mg/mL to 5 mg/ml, the lactoferrin inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells by 56 percent after two days.
Based on their findings, the authors concluded that “Lactoferrin seems to have great potential in practical medicine.” Much more research is needed to determine the role camel milk and lactoferrin may have in the fight against colon cancer.
Other facts about camel milk
According to the Camel Milk Association, which is based in Michigan:
- Camel milk is closer to human milk than any other milk
- People who are lactose-intolerance often can easily digest camel milk
- Camel milk does not have beta casein and other allergens commonly found in cow’s milk
- Camel milk contains proteins not found in cow milk or present in only minor amounts
- The lactoferrin in camel milk has anti-cancer, antiviral, and antibacterial properties
- Camel milk has three times the vitamin C and ten times the iron found in cow’s milk. It also contains more copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc than cow milk
- Cholesterol levels in camel milk are lower than those in cow milk
Camel milk and cancer
Investigation into the possible role of camel milk in fighting cancer is new. Among the few previous studies of the anticancer potential of camel milk is a 2012 article appearing in the Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology noting that camel milk triggered a process that inhibited proliferation and survival of both human liver and breast cancer cell lines.
What role might the milk from camels have in the fight against cancer? It is still much too early to tell, but researchers will likely continue their quest to uncover the potential of camel milk in colon cancer as well as other forms of the disease.
Camel Milk Coalition
Habib HM et al. Camel milk lactoferrin reduces the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells and exerts antioxidant and DNA damage inhibiting activities. Food Chemistry 2013 Nov 1; 141(1): 148-52
Korashy HM et al. Camel milk triggers apoptotic signaling pathways in human hepatoma HepG2 and breast cancer MF7 cell lines through transcriptional mechanism. Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology 2012; 2012:593195
National Cancer Institute