The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at www.stevecarper.com/li I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on Smashwords.com or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.


Thursday, June 30, 2005

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Anti-Milk Campaign

Hey, here's an idea. If you're LI and don't like it, sue. Sue who? Why not sue the dairy industry?

Nutty? Of course. But as a publicity stunt it's top notch, if you're a group with an agenda.

The group is the rabidly pro-animal rights and militantly vegan Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Since they're based in the District of Columbia, they plan to file suit against dairy producers on behalf of D.C. residents who are lactose intolerant. They're asking for compensation for lactose intolerant children, along with adults who've learned that they're LI in the past three years. The other part of the suit – and the obvious real goal, as the compensation issue stands no chance – is a court order mandating that warning labels about lactose intolerance be placed on milk sold in the city.

For more publicity they've plastered the Metro rail and subway system with spoof ads of the Got Milk? campaign. The Got Lactose Intolerance? ads picture a multi-ethnic group of sufferers knocking on the door of an in-use bathroom, needing desperately to get in. And let's face it, which of us with LI hasn't been there?

One problem is that there's a big difference between choosing to avoid or limit the use of dairy products and suing the dairy industry because milk is inherently evil. Another problem is trying to take sides with two groups which are both pushing agendas using misleading data and false claims.

A report on activistcash.com (and similar to others easily found on the web) has a variety of highly unflattering comments on PCRM:

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks to remove eggs, milk, meat, and seafood from the American diet, and to eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its operational and financial ties to other animal activist groups and its close relationship with violent zealots, PCRM has successfully duped the media and much of the general public into believing that its pronouncements about the superiority of vegetarian-only diets represent the opinion of the medical community.
“Less than 5 percent of PCRM’s members are physicians,” Newsweek wrote in February 2004.


The American Medical Association (AMA), which actually represents the medical profession, has called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”


Unfortunately, while their tactics parallel those of PETA's, they are not always wrong, especially when the milk industry hands them a club to beat itself over the head with.

Based on studies conducted by Michael Zemel of the University of Tennessee, the milk industry and big-name food companies started trumpeting in ads and press releases the notion that drinking milk can help people to lose weight. The PCRM is filing a suit against Kraft Foods Inc., General Mills Inc., the Dannon Co. Inc. and three dairy industry trade groups – including the National Dairy Council, which funded Zemel's work.

The PCRM has disputed this dairy weight-loss notion here:
Two recent studies, one at the University of Vermont and the other at Purdue University, found no significant difference in weight loss between people consuming a high-dairy diet and those consuming a low-dairy diet. In the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a study of dairy consumption among 12,000 children concluded that the more milk children drank, the more weight they gained. The study’s lead author called the dairy industry’s claims “misleading.”


And here:

“The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence confirms that dairy products either cause weight gain or, at best, have no effect on weight whatsoever,” said Amy Lanou, Ph.D., PCRM senior nutrition scientist. “Since 1989 there have been 35 clinical trials that have explored the relationship between dairy products and/or calcium supplements and body weight. Thirty-one found no relation; two indicated that milk and other dairy products actually contributed to weight gain. Only the two studies led by Zemel have found that dairy contributes to both weight and fat loss when individuals are also restricting calories to lose weight,” said Lanou.


The defendants plan to vigorously combat the suit, according to their press releases. Policy by press release. I love it.

However, my bottom line is that while studies are ongoing, the evidence that drinking milk leads to weight loss is thin indeed.

But. Let me make that stronger. BUT. There are many studies that do show that milk is good for you in many different ways. There are also studies that show that milk may be a contributor to a number of diseases or health problems.

Drinking milk is a decision, one best made by you in full knowledge of your own diet, nutrition, and health. If you want to avoid it, by all means do so. You do not need dairy products for a healthy lifestyle. But you can also have a perfectly healthy lifestyle with dairy products included. Beware of any group that tries to tell you something different.

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Food Allergy Research Consortium Launched

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will be funding a new Food Allergy Research Consortium. The consortium, led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will receive approximately $17 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an NIH division. In addition, a five-year NIAID grant totaling approximately $5 million to the Emmes Corporation, of Rockville, MD, will fund a statistical center to support the consortium.

NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation director Daniel Rotrosen, M.D. said, "The expertise of the Food Allergy Research Consortium provides a unique opportunity to investigate basic immunologic mechanisms associated with food allergy in animal models and humans, and, ultimately, to test novel therapies to treat food allergy.”

A potential peanut allergy therapy will be tested first.

The consortium’s second project is an observational study that will enroll 400 infants who have allergies to milk or eggs. Such children are at higher risk of developing peanut allergy, but the vast majority will lose their allergies to those foods as they grow up. The study will follow the children for at least five years and study immunologic changes that accompany the loss of allergy to foods and the development of allergy to new foods. This study will be led by Scott Sicherer, M.D., at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The clinical and observational studies will take place at five clinical sites:

  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Principal Investigator: Hugh Sampson, M.D.
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Principal Investigator: Robert Wood, M.D.
  • Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; Principal Investigator: Wesley Burks, M.D.
  • University of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock; Principal Investigator: Stacie Jones, M.D.
  • National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver; Principal Investigator: Donald Leung, M.D., Ph.D.


For information about participating in the Food Allergy Research Consortium’s clinical and observational studies, please call the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Pediatric Allergy Division, at (212) 241-5548.

All information and quotes taken from the press release on the NIH site (www.nih.gov).

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Wheat and Dairy Free Online UK Supermarket

The UK is home to a new website aimed at those with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and other food allergies and intolerances, The Wheat and Dairy Free Supermarket.

Their homepage states that "We’ve brought together nearly 400 wheat, dairy, gluten, yeast, sugar and caffeine free products, including fresh bread daily, so you’ll be spoilt for choice." However, "Products on this site may contain nuts or traces of nuts." Deliveries are made within 48 hours throughout the UK for a flat fee of £6.50.

I'm not happy with some of the statements on their Why Dairy Free? page, which I think are misleading or outright wrong. Fortunately, food doesn't care why you're eating it.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Lactagen - Questions, No Answers

I get more questions about Lactagen than any other single topic these days. Somebody is doing a remarkable job of marketing and promotion.

Lactagen claims to be a cure for lactose intolerance. That's right: a cure. Take the product for 38 days and you'll never be bothered by lactose again. [UPDATE: Lactagen no longer uses the word “cure” in its marketing. Its website information has also changed since this was originally posted.]

Lactagen's™ one-time 38-day patent-pending formula allows the gradual and painless re-introduction of dairy into the digestive system. The program painlessly trains the body to be able to digest dairy products without the usual painful reactions. The combination of taking yogurt with live cultures, having meals with the formula, taking specific dosages and with the combination of Lactose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, FOS and Cellulose Gum and Silica, the body learns how to digest dairy products.


On the surface, Lactagen doesn't appear to be very different from other acidophilus products aimed at those with LI, such as DairyCare (my website page / DairyCare homepage) or Digestive Advantage (my website page/ Digestive Advantage homepage). What hits my eyeballs with fireworks is the claim of a permanent cure.

How can this possibly work? Here's my speculation.

There are two sources in the body for the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Undigested lactose pulls water into the intestines, creating possible diarrhea. And that undigested lactose can be fermented in the colon by the bacteria that naturally live there, producing the gases that can cause bloating, cramps, and flatulence.

But other types of bacteria actually digest the lactose. These types include Lactobacillus acidophilus as well as the bacterial cultures that are used in yogurt. If you have yogurt regularly you can push out the "bad" bacteria and colonize the "good" bacteria in their place. Result: greatly diminished symptoms if you eat or drink any lactose.

Lactagen seems to use the same effect. Here's how the site describes the regimen:
Step 1: Starting Lactagen™
Starting the program is simple. Most importantly the program is specifically set-up to minimize any lactose intolerant symptoms which might occur. Dissolve the Lactagen™ patent-pending proprietary blend in 4 to 6 ounces of water and drink it with your meals. After the proprietary blend is dissolved, the product turns clear and tastes a little sweet. Consume yogurt (with "live cultures") during the first three days to supplement the blend. We recommend not eating any dairy products during the six weeks unless specifically stated in the protocol.

Step 2: The Lactagen™ Program
Lactagen™ is taken with dinner for 18 days, and then with breakfast and dinner for another 16 days. On the final 4 days, milk and then other dairy products are re-introduced into the diet. The complete Lactagen™ process takes 38 days. A full transition to dairy products begins on day 39. Individuals are then free to eat whatever dairy they desire - symptom free!

Step 3: Follow up to the Lactagen™ Process
After completing all 38 days, start slowly re-introducing dairy products into your diet. There will be no need for lactase supplement pills or further use of Lactagen™. For the next six to eight weeks, you should have a healthy serving of dairy on a weekly basis. It is important to continue having dairy periodically to maintain tolerance.


There's no reason this shouldn't work. My big question, though, is very simple: wouldn't this work exactly as well just by eating yogurt and skipping the Lactagen?

This is a very big question, because - as you might expect of a product that claims you only need to take it once and be cured forever - it costs a lot of money. $149.95, to be exact, as of March 2009. Not including possible tax and shipping.

For a true cure, of course, this is a trifling amount. A few bottles of lactase will run you this much in not too long a time.

If you want to order, you can call 1- 888-DAIRY-OK (888-324-7965) or order through the link on their home page.

For more info, email them at questions@lactagen.com.

And if you do go through the whole 38-day program, please let me know all the details by emailing me at stevecarper@cs.com.

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Food Sensitivities Translation Cards

Traveling is always a problem for those with lactose intolerance or other food issues, and traveling in countries where you don't speak the language is even worse.

Here are two websites that provide cards pre-printed with translations of the questions you want to ask and the products you want to avoid.

  • SelectWisely provides a number of different cards, including Lactose Intolerance, Food Allergy , Vegetarian, AND Gluten-Free.

    On the Lactose Intolerance card page, you can get a translation from any of more than a dozen languages to any two of those languages. The card translates two statements:
    I am allergic to milk and all milk products (milk, butter, cheese).

    Does this food contain milk or milk products (milk, butter, cheese)?


    The price is $8.95 for two identical laminated cards.


  • A British web firm, Dietarycard.com , will create custom cards for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, celiac disease, or just about any combinations of foods you are sensitive to.

    The cards come standard with the following printed on them:
    I have an allergy/intolerance to:

    And all the derivatives.

    Eating foods, sauces, or garnishes containing these ingredients will make me ill.

    Can you assist me in making my choices from your menu?



    Anywhere from 1 to 8 risk foods can be included on the cards, available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

    The Classic Coeliac cards contain slightly different information.

    Custom Cards cost £7 each or £25 including free delivery for their Europack presenting all five languages in a handy wallet.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Is There Lactose in Wine?

I don't get too many questions these days that stump me, but one asking whether lactose was used as a fining agent in wine made me blink.

Fining agent? What's that?

Some Googling told me that fining agents are substances added to wine to bond to particles that can affect a wine's color, flavor, and stability. The particles and fining agent sink to the bottom of the container and can be easily removed from the wine.

A million different fining agents are used by various people and for various reasons. However, lactose doesn't seem to be one of them.

That's the good news.

Some people do use the milk protein casein as a fining agent, however. Technically, since casein doesn't dissolve well in water, they used it in the form of potassium or sodium caseinate. But as I explain in my The Experts Speak page, neither caseinate contains lactose.

And not even those with milk allergies should worry. The European Union has recently declared that the use of casein as a fining agent presents such a low risk that it need not be mentioned even under their new, stricter allergen labeling laws. Whey used in distillates for spirits does not need to be mentioned either. The bureaucratic details are available in this pdf.

Vegans do consider this an animal-based item, however. There are vegan wines guaranteed not to use animal-derived products available and are easily found online.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lactaid Changes Ultra to New Fast Act

When I went to the supermarket the other day, I was surprised to find Lactaid Fast Act replacing the Ultra tabs I had been using. (Ultra strength Lactaid had 9000 FCC units of lactase, triple the strength of their regular pills. So do these new pills.)

What is Fast Act? Accoring to the Lactaid site, Fast Act "starts working twice as fast as other Ultra strength supplements" and "it dissolves faster, so it goes to work sooner and breaks down more lactose than any Ultra strength product available."

How? They don't say, of course. Not even their press release has any info. The technology is "revolutionary," though.

The tablets look exactly the same as the old Ultras, and are also available in chewable form.

Lactaid really wants you to try them. They have an offer for a free sample as well as one for a dollar-off coupon.

I never go anyplace without lactase tablets in my pill case. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you should always have them close at hand as well. The name on the brand doesn't matter much. You can choose by price, or type of pill, or strength. If one brand doesn't work, try another. But lactase pills, any lactase pills, make a huge difference.

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Welcome to Planet Lactose

Steve Carper here. My Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse is the biggest LI site on the web. Too big, in fact. Just updating a section now takes months of work and effort.

Even with the Hot News sections, there was no good way to comment on all the little things that people want to know, the multiple of minor changes taking place in products, questions that need updated answers, rules and regulations that may concern those who try to avoid lactose, and the whole wide world of miscellaneous items that I want to comment on.

What you get with Planet Lactose is newer and faster news on all things lactose. Even better, blogs provide an outlet for comments so everyone can see your feedback.

Never fear. The
Clearinghouse is still a going concern. You'll be able to switch over there with a click of the mouse.

Have fun here. I know I will.

Steve Carper

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