Despite sales of human breast milk growing online, health experts are warning people not to buy it because the milk is a potential health hazard and possibly riddled with nasty bacteria, viruses and drugs.
Online sales of breastmilk is nothing new, but after one entrepreneurial Brit took to Tik Tok recently to declare her breastmilk "liquid gold" claiming she made £10,000 from selling her milk to bodybuilders, there has been a rise in breastmilk sales on online market places such as eBay, reports The Guardian.
The Guardian reports that breastmilk can go for £15 for 150ml on eBay, which has since banned the sale of human breastmilk following the expert's warning.
Dr Sarah Steele, a public health researcher at the University of Cambridge urged people to remember human breastmilk is a body fluid and many of the ads on online marketplaces contain little information about the seller and no safety advice at all.
She said: “What’s new is this idea of remote sale from a total stranger you will never meet and therefore aren’t screening or building trust with at all. You have no idea who or what is at the other end of the transaction. It’s very unsafe.”
Dr Steele also said this new spate of breastmilk listings offer to post the milk not courier it, which potentially makes breastmilk even more dangerous to consume.
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“Shipping via Royal Mail is not temperature controlled and that’s when bacteria multiply. This should be obvious to people – you don’t send your mate milk via Royal Mail when they run out," she said.
Breastmilk available to babies who need it via milk banks is screened and pasteurised. Donors also undergo checks for infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and syphilis, and whether or not they smoke or use drugs.
Unscreened breastmilk however, potentially contains a lot of unwanted nasties.
It could be diluted with a number of other fluids such as cow's milk, or stored in bags containing the industrial chemical BPA.
It could also contain cytomegalovirus or CMV, a virus often found in homes with pet cats. Dr Steele said although it is often harmless, the virus can cause serious health problems in unborn babies and infants, and in adults with compromised immune systems.
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The academic added that people are not just buying breastmilk for newborn babies, but are purchasing it as an alternative therapy for cancer or because they believe it will boost immunity or offer a nutrition hit.
Indeed, The Sun reports that there is a long-held belief among many weightlifters that breastmilk nutrients help build up muscle mass.
Dr Steele added: “A lot of the promises people read about in online forums about the miracles of breast milk for adults don’t hold up to science, and the risks of buying this online outweigh any purported benefits."
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