Lactoferrin–is immunoregulatory, inhibits angiogenesis, and binds iron
Perhaps one of the most promising therapeutic uses of lactoferrin, a milk protein with bacteriostatic properties, may be as a nontoxic, anticancer agent. Lactoferrin, a minor fraction of whey, results in a significant reduction in the incidence of esophageal, lung, bladder, and colon cancer in laboratory rats (Ushida et al. 1999; Masuda et al. 2000; Tsuda et al. 2002).
Since evidence indicates milk products protect against colon cancer, researchers speculate that bovine lactoferrin, a natural ingredient in milk, may be the chemoprotective agent (Tsuda et al. 2000b). Rats treated with a carcinogen and supplemented with 2% bovine lactoferrin for 36 weeks had a reduced incidence of colon cancer (27% of that observed in a control group; rats receiving 0.2% bovine lactoferrin reduced incidence to 46%). A remarkable 43% reduction in spontaneous lung metastasis (compared to controls) occurred after implanting colon carcinoma 26 (Co 26 Lu) in lactoferrin-treated laboratory animals (Tsuda et al. 2000a).
In addition to inhibiting angiogenesis (the vascular network that sustains the tumor), lactoferrin maintains the integrity of the immune system (Yoo et al. 1997; Tsuda et al. 2002). Typically, bovine lactoferrin prompts an increase in the number of natural killer cells, as well as the cytotoxicity of white blood cells (Tsuda et al. 2000a). The antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulating properties of lactoferrin appear active against the gastritis-, ulcer-, and cancer-inducing bacterium Helicobacter pylori (Dial et al. 2002).
Lactoferrin, a natural iron-binding protein, scavenges free radicals in fluids and inflamed areas, suppressing free radical mediated damage. It decreases the availability of iron in neoplastic cells, depriving them of an iron supply (Khan et al. 2001; Weinberg 2001).
The suggested dosage is 300-900 mg a day of the superior apolactoferrin (iron-depleted) form of lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a natural component of cows’ and human mothers’ milk, but is also found in the milk of sheep, goats, and pigs.