News flash! Ball dropped from hand hits ground! News flash! Sun rises in east! News flash! Raw milk is no different from pasteurized milk!
Nobody in the world should be surprised by any of these. Even so, there somehow exists a large community of people who think that for some reason - usually a scientifically illiterate one - people with lactose intolerance who can't drink pasteurized milk can drink raw milk.
A lot of these people get paid by the Weston A. Price Foundation to put out propaganda touting the wondrous properties of raw milk. They even released a "study" in 2008 in which they surveyed a group of raw milk advocates and guess what they found? Amazingly, the people who buy and drink raw milk say that they can drink raw milk. The "study" was never published in a peer-reviewed journal so it wasn't checked by actual scientists. The FDA took one look at the methodology of the study and metaphorically walked out of the room.
I talk about that study and a magazine article by raw milk propagandist David Gumpert in Raw Milk Article Long but Flawed.
Gumpert is back with another article, this one for Grist Magazine.
The folks at the Weston A. Price Foundation, apparently having found out that no one who is not already a True Believer will swallow a fake "study" having as much scientific validity as one of those online "test your own IQ" sites. They hired Christopher Gardner, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School to do a real, controlled study.
Here's the result you get when you conduct a real study.
"The data fail to support our hypothesis that Raw Milk confers some benefit over Pasteurized Milk in the form of an improvement in the experience of symptoms of lactose intolerant adults."
Man, I would have loved, loved, loved to have seen their faces as Weston A. Price when they got that piece of news.
The study findings came out exactly the way any sensible person would have expected, given the known science:
[P]articipants went through three eight-day phases during which they consumed pasteurized milk, raw milk, and soy milk. Gardner notes that "the severity of the symptoms was virtually identical for the raw vs. pasteurized milk, while the symptoms of the soy milk were quite a bit, and statistically significantly, lower."
Raw milk = pasteurized milk in producing symptoms of lactose intolerance. Science!
Gumpert desperately backpedals to find reasons to discount the study as much as possible. It was small, only of 16 people. Gardner responded, "However, despite the small sample size, the results are remarkably consistent. I do not think the sample size proved to be a problem for the study, and that a larger study would have generated the same overall finding, just more strongly."
Gardner attributes the small size of his study to exactly the same problem I spent a whole month writing about in my series of posts about the NIH State of the Science Conference on LI. It's really, really hard to find people who show symptoms to lactose in the laboratory, no matter how horrible they claim their symptoms are in daily life. It's a mystery why this should be. That's the Phase 2 that really needs to happen, not yet another study on why raw milk turns out to contain exactly the same amount of lactose as um, milk.
I realize this won't stop the craziness. A Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Company, another raw milk advocate who co-sponsored the study, was already being quoted by Gumpert babbling something scientifically incoherent. Raw Milk is a religious belief. True Believers are not susceptible to facts that contradict their beliefs.
I have a True Belief of my own. That those of you who follow this blog regularly have learned enough about science to dismiss the irrational beliefs of advocates.
So repeat after me today's science lesson: Raw milk contains exactly as much lactose as pasteurized milk. It will produce the same symptoms ounce for ounce in those who are LI. It contains no magical properties that neutralize the lactose. If you get symptoms from pasteurized milk, you will get the same symptoms for an equal quantity of raw milk.
Simple and scientific. Spread the word.