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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No Need to Avoid Milk Even If You Have Symptoms Says New Study

According to, a new study by a leading Finnish research team denies that cow's milk is the cause of their gastrointestinal symptoms.

HELSINKI, Finland, Dec. 16 - Milk and other lactose-rich products may be getting a bum rap for food-related gastrointestinal symptoms, researchers here say.

The real culprit could well be an as-yet uncharacterized intestinal immune-mediated disorder, reported Laura Paajanen, M.D., of the Foundation for Nutrition Research here in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We conclude that food-related gastrointestinal symptoms in young adults are caused by unspecific and unknown traits of altered mucosal immune response rather than by cow milk, as is often suspected by the patient," the study authors wrote.

"We suggest that this new entity, i.e., intestinal immune-mediated disorder, may be a self-perpetuating disease with fluctuations in symptoms, they wrote. "An autoimmune characteristic of the syndrome, at least in a subgroup of the affected subjects, cannot be ruled out."

Individuals who avoid milk and diary products in the mistaken belief that these are the source of their GI symptoms may not be getting important nutrients, they added.

Primary source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Source reference: Paajanen L et al. Cow milk not responsible for most gastrointestinal immune-like syndromes-evidence from a population-based study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 82:1327-1235.

As I've often argued, never assume that all your symptoms are coming from one food unless you have done a lengthy and exhaustive food diary to carefully study every food that you are eating. Symptoms from food are often hard to pin down. Milk is not always to blame, and there is no need to take it out of your diet unless you are forced to.

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