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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lactose Not a Cause of Arthritis

Dr. Robert Shmerling's column, which I found in the Baltimore Sun, addressed the kind of basic question about lactose that I also get frequently.

Q: Does the lactose in dairy products cause pain and stiffness in the joints of people with arthritis?

The first part of his answer is a direct no.
A: There is no known association between lactose in dairy products and arthritis;

He does a careful qualification:
however, our understanding of the causes of and effects of diet on most types of arthritis is limited. At some point in the future, researchers could discover an important role for lactose or other nutritional components in the development of arthritis.

This is an entirely reasonable admission. We just don't know much about the issue and it's fair to say that someday lactose may be implicated. I just want to emphasize that absolutely nothing known or suspected today gives even the slightest hint of a connection with lactose. More than that:
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and for most there is no known dietary connection.

I'm getting signs of arthritis as I age just like almost everybody else. But I'm positive that lactose doesn't play a part. Maybe the world of science and medicine will surprise us all one day, but I'm going to assume not.

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