Can milk provide relief from Chemotherapy side effects?

Chemo side effects are no joke.

I’ve seen one too many people endure the brutal impact of chemotherapy on their bodies, my mom included, and although I have no clue what it’s like to experience these side effects myself, I can guess that they’re pretty friggen awful.

There could be good news for those who have to experience chemo, however.

An article from Eurekalert makes reference to a paper published in the Food & Function journal. Researchers from Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences explored the use of lactoferrin, a prominent bioactive protein found in saliva and milk, as a means to combat taste and smell abnormalities (TSA) induced by chemotherapy.

The article explains that a common side effect of chemo is experiencing a metallic aftertaste in the mouth, regardless if you consume food. The taste can last for hours, weeks or months after treatment has been completed.

This crappy taste can lead to further complications for people who have undergone chemotherapy, as it can contribute to diminished appetite, weight loss, loss of nutrition, depression and even eating disorders. Up until this study, there have been no advancements in combatting TSA.

The research has shown that lactoferrin has the ability to reduce the metallic flavour in the mouths of those who have chemo, allowing cancer patients to adequately taste food and maintain or re-establish a healthy appetite.

The article states that “lactoferrin supplementation also enhances the expression of salivary immune proteins, which may help reduce oxidative stress and resulting side effects. Oral infections, such as thrush, also may be diminished.”

I plan to keep an eye out for any other news regarding what could be a tremendous advancement in the context of cancer and chemotherapy. The use of lactoferrin to significantly reduce chemo side effects could completely change a patient’s life.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Robbie’s Photo Art</a> on <a href=”″>Visual hunt</a> / <a href=””&gt; CC BY-NC-ND</a>

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