The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at 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 or or 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, March 11, 2010

Report from the LI Conference, part 9

With the overview talks done, we finally get to the meat of the conference.

The first section was devoted to the question: What Is the Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance, and How Does This Prevalence Differ by Race, Ethnicity, and Age?

Population Genetics: Evolutionary History of Lactose Tolerance in Africa
Sarah A. Tishkoff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Departments of Genetics and Biology
David and Lyn Silfen University
University of Pennsylvania

Holy smoke. That Sarah Tishkoff?

For the fans of population genetics out there, yes, I got to hear from Sarah Tishkoff herself. Why is this a big deal? Let's go back in time, to a post I made in 2006, quoting Scientific American.

According to University of Maryland biologist Sarah Tishkoff, the lead author of a study appearing in today's Nature Genetics, the mutation allowing them to "get milk" arose so quickly and was so advantageous that "it is basically the strongest signal of selection ever observed in any genome, in any study, in any population in the world."

What this means is that despite the nonsensical statements that "humans were never meant to drink cow's milk," lactose tolerance or lactase persistence is such an overwhelmingly positive mutation in humans that multiple populations, totally independent from one another, selected for that version of the gene. Being able to tolerate milk products must have significant advantages. The exact nature of those advantages are still not completely certain. The nutrients that dairy provide are "obvious," to use her word. But even the fact that milk is a drinkable fluid, containing water, may have been of critically importance in areas like Africa, where supplies of potable drinking water were often rare.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: