Some fitness buffs, fetishists, and people with chronic illnesses believe human breast milk—apparently now a profitable, growing market—is a superfood of sorts, Sky News notes. And then there are the science experts who say that drinking the lactated liquid could infect imbibers with hepatitis (B and C), HIV, and syphilis, the news operation adds. A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine warns that consumers who buy breast milk online not only have to worry about unpasteurized, untested milk that could breed bacteria, but also that they could be putting themselves at risk for catching contagious diseases, per the Independent. Study author Sarah Steele warns that these potentially dangerous viruses—either contracted before a lactating mother gives birth or even from her sexual activity afterward—"could unwittingly" be transmitted to consumers.
Women pumping for profit may not use sterilized equipment or sanitize correctly, Steele writes, and the milk might not be stored or transported properly, per Sky. And the supposedly protein-rich drink (which Steele contends actually has less protein than cow's milk) increasingly craved by athletes such as bodybuilders can be chock-full of other contaminants as well: "Alcohol, drugs (both prescription and illicit), tobacco, and caffeine pass into the milk alongside other environmental contaminants, meaning chemicals and toxins … that those seeking 'to eat clean' are themselves shunning," she writes. If all this fails to convince, Steele notes there's been nothing proving the benefits, stating that "no scientific study evidences that direct adult consumption of human milk for medicinal properties offers anything more than a placebo effect." (There is breast milk jewelry, though, if you're interested.)