Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or 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.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dairy Symptoms May Be Neither Intolerance Nor Allergy

Ah, science. It never stops changing, never stops learning. While you have to work to keep up with it, the glory of science is that it has something new to say every single day. (For the same reason, Intelligent Design aka Creationism will always be a fraud designed to keep you stupid – it can never say anything new: all it can do is say "no" to whatever stuff science comes up with.)

Anyway, remember Dr. Laura Paajanen, author of the dissertation I summarized in A Serious Look at Lactose Intolerance and The Different Types of Dairy Allergy?

You can take a look at a summary of another piece of her research at The original article was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (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.)

By giving laboratory and genetic tests to people who claimed to have symptoms when eating or drinking dairy products, Paajanen found that only a tiny minority of them tested positive for either lactose intolerance or milk allergy. What's the problem, then? Possibly something that we haven't recognized before and don't fully understand:

"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."

This "as-yet uncharacterized intestinal immune-mediated disorder" as Jeff Minerd, the medpagetoday writer, put it, could explain why so many of the people who write me complaining about milk have symptoms and effects that don't correspond to anything we know about intolerance or allergy.

Unfortunately, there's no advice yet about what to do if your suffer from this, or even how to test for it. But in science identifying a problem is always the crucial first step toward a solution. Keep tuned.

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