Abstract and key points
- Colostrum preparations are dietary products, mostly from bovine sources, of the milk secreted within the first days after giving birth.
- Colostrum is taken as powder or capsules, rarely as fresh colostrum milk.
- There is no evidence that colostrum alleviates symptoms in cancer patients or acts against cancer.
- Colostrum seems to be generally safe in people without allergies to dairy products.
Colostrum is the milk secreted by mammals within the first few days after giving birth.
Colostrum preparations used in CAM most often stem from cows and are marketed as powder or capsules for oral intake as dietary products.
Colostrum contains high concentrations of immunoglobulins, cytokines, growth factors, lactoferrin and other proteins, which play an important role for passive immunity of the offspring and act as immunomodulators.
Intake of colostrum, especially bovine colostrum products, are claimed to modulate the human immune system, alleviate inflammatory diseases and their symptoms and act against cancer cells in humans.
There is no clinical evidence that supports the claim of beneficial effects in cancer patients.
No controlled clinical trials are available and results from three case series showed either no or questionable benefit.
No adverse effects have been reported in cancer patients. People who are allergic to dairy products should not take colostrum preparations.
Colostrum seems to be generally safe but inefficacious in cancer patients.
CitationGabriele Dennert, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Colostrum [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Colostrum. February 8, 2017.
Assessed as up to date in February 2017 by Barbara Wider.
Summary assessed as up to date in April 2016 by Barbara Wider.
Summary assessed as up to date in January 2015 by Barbara Wider.
Summary assessed as up to date in September 2013 by Barbara Wider.
Summary first published in September 2012, authored by Gabriele Dennert.
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The present documentation has been compiled by the CAM-CANCER Project with all due care and expert knowledge. However, the CAM-CANCER Project provides no assurance, guarantee or promise with regard to the correctness, accuracy, up-to-date status or completeness of the information it contains. This information is designed for health professionals. Readers are strongly advised to discuss the information with their physician. Accordingly, the CAM-CANCER Project shall not be liable for damage or loss caused because anyone relies on the information.