SAN DIEGO - For decades doctors have touted the benefits of breast milk for babies, and now some bodybuilders are turning to it to build muscle.
Pete Cicconi has been bodybuilding for 30 years and has heard of people using mother’s milk during their workouts.
“Obviously, if babies are getting stimulation of their growth hormone and they are growing and maturing from newborn to toddler, then bodybuilders back in the day surmised there must be some benefit to us,” Cicconi said.
Colostrum, which is the liquid that comes out of the mother right after giving birth before the full milk comes in, is loaded with fats and carbohydrates. It is also available in over-the-counter tablets.
Cicconi has tried the colostrum supplement, but admits he didn’t see much success.
Most of San Diego’s hardcore bodybuilders train at World Gym in Pacific Beach. Fox 5 hit the weight room to ask around about mother’s milk.
“I've heard about it, but I don't know anyone particularly who does it,” said female professional bodybuilder Meriza Deguzman-Cicconi. “I have heard about those who do.”
Matt Upchurch is a personal trainer and said he knows guys who have done everything from using steroids to pre-work drinks loaded with ephedrine to popping pills like Cialis to increase blood flow.
“Everyone is looking for a quick fix or a special pill or something,” said Upchurch.
Upchurch along with the dozen or so other heavy-duty lifters interviewed by Fox 5 said they are not surprised bodybuilders are drinking breast milk.
“It’s not a shock. You could have told me it was motor oil instead and I wouldn`t have blinked,” said Rick Stephenson, the owner of World Gym and former pro bodybuilder.
Breast milk is readily available online on sites like Craigslist. Fox 5 found several new mothers selling their milk for roughly $2 an ounce. Most of the ads specified that the milk had to be used for babies or cancer patients, not men. One mom told Fox 5 via email she has had men email her and she refused to sell to him.
The ads also say the milk is clean and the mothers used prenatal vitamins and were healthy, but local doctors warn there is no way for sure to know. A recent study from the New York Times found 74 percent of samples from milk-sharing sites had some type of bacteria, including staph and strep.
“It’s a dangerous practice,” said Dr. Shawn Evans of Scripps La Jolla Hospital.
Dr. Evans said beside the potential health concerns related to unchecked breast milk, there is absolutely no muscle or health benefit for adults to drink it.
“There are calories associated with it and one can argue that are lipids and carbohydrates and protein sources, but not to the degree that people have made it out to be. It’s a big myth,” he said.
It’s a myth many have believed had merit. Arnold Schwarzenegger was even rumored to drink mother’s milk during his days as a professional bodybuilder, despite his famous line in the movie “Pumping Iron.”
“At the very end Arnold finished a bodybuilding contest and one of his fans asked him if he wanted milk and Arnold said ‘milk is for babies. When you’re a man you drink beer,’” said Stephenson, “and I`ll agree with that 100 percent.”