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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Report from the LI Conference, part 16

You want embarrassing?

Say you have a major federal agency, one that has responsibilities for a major, crucial, fraction of the nation's wellbeing. Call it, say, the National Institutes of Health. Make them responsible for the program of a major scientific get-together, say the state-of-the-science conference on Lactose Intolerance. And give that agency the very simple, basic responsibility of making the individual segments of that conference program accessible on the Internet, say, by posting links to each presentation and abstract. You do that, as everyone who has any knowledge of the Internet knows, by taking the URL and adding a # plus the name of an internal link.

So the URL for a link to, say, Evidence-based Practice Center Presentation II:
The Bone Health Outcomes of Dairy-Exclusion Diets by Timothy J. Wilt would read something like this:

http:// consensus.nih.gov/2010/lactoseabstracts.htm #Wilt

Simple enough.

Unless, that is, said Timothy J. Wilt, M.D., M.P.H. is the author of two different presentations. In which case, a URL that reads:

http:// consensus.nih.gov/2010/lactoseabstracts.htm #Wilt

takes you to the first of the two. And never the second. So I can't give you a direct link to the abstract of Evidence-based Practice Center Presentation II:
The Bone Health Outcomes of Dairy-Exclusion Diets because the boneheads at the NIH didn't think to make the link read #Wilt2.

Programming, even HTML-markup, is all details. Mistakes and typos are all too easy to make. But somebody has to click on all the links to make sure they work!

Anyway, for all the info about Dr. Wilt and his co-authors, see the entry I posted about part I of their multi-part presentation.

This particular presentation looked again at actual consumption of nutrients among those who had dairy and those who didn't. What happens with those who don't eat or drink dairy? They don't get enough calcium.

Vegan children consumed only 47% of the RDA for calcium. Vegan women got even less, a mere 30%.

The numbers were extremely similar for LI children (45%) and LI women (37%). LI, lactose intolerance, is being defined here as anyone who claimed symptoms from dairy. Those who tested as having a lactase deficiency, technically a somewhat different group, had a somewhat but not terribly different pattern, 44% for children, 50% for women. (Why no results for men? Apparently none of the 52 studies they summarized looked specifically at males apart from other groups.)

Does this lack of calcium make any real different for bones? The evidence there was thoroughly mixed. Some studies found no differences at all, but many did show increases for bone problems of all sorts for people who avoided dairy.

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