By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

L = Lactose Intolerance

Lactose, a milk sugar, is made up of two other sugars, glucose and galactose. (Galactose has been identified as a causative factor in heart disease and cataracts). Most adults "lack" the enzyme, lactase, to break down lactose. Instead, lactose is broken down by bacteria in the lower intestines. Bacteria gotta eat too, right? Problem is, after bacteria dine, their own body wastes combine with those sugars to ferment into gas and toxins causing bloating and cramps.

"An estimated 50 million Americans experience intestinal discomfort after consuming dairy products. Symptoms include bloating, stomach pain, cramps, gas, or diarrhea."

Postgraduate Medicine 1994;95(1)

"The disaccharide lactose is naturally present as a component of foods in milk and dairy products. In most people lactase activity decreases at the age of approximately 2 years of age. After this lactose intake can cause symptoms of bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and diarrhea due to the lactose reaching the large intestine. This phenomenon is called lactose intolerance. It is generally recommended that these people abandon the consumption of milk and dairy products."

Schweiz Med Wochenschr, 1998 Sep, 128:38 (Swiss Journal, published in German)

"Human adult-onset lactase decline is a biologic feature characteristic of the maturing intestine in the majority of the world's population."

Nutr Rev, 1998 Jan, 56:1 Pt 1

"Overall, about 75 percent of the world's population, including 25 percent of those in the U.S., lose their lactase enzymes after weaning."

J. of the American Dietetic Assoc. 1996; 96

"Lactose intolerance is widespread...Lactose maldigestion may coexist in adults with irritable bowel syndrome and in children with recurrent abdominal pain. Management consists primarily of dietary changes."

Postgrad Med, 1998 Sep, 104:3

"Lactose maldigestion may be a contributory factor in children with irritable bowel syndrome, and lactose avoidance in these patients may reduce medication use to relieve symptoms."

South Med J, 1999 Aug, 92:8

"Lactose malabsorption and lactase deficiency are chronic organic pathologic conditions characterized by abdominal pain and distention, flatulence, and the passage of loose, watery stools. Once correct diagnosis is established, introduction of a lactose-free dietary regime relieves symptoms in most patients...who remain largely unaware of the relationship between food intake and symptoms."

J Clin Gastroenterol, 1999 Apr, 28:3

"Females with lactose malabsorption not only showed signs of irritable bowel syndrome but also signs of premenstrual syndrome and mental depression...Lactose malabsorption should be considered in patients with signs of mental depression."

Dig Dis Sci, 1998 Nov, 43:11

"Allergies and food intolerance together comprise the manifestations of 'adverse food reaction'. The best known and most common are: allergy to cow's milk proteins, intolerance to lactose, and gluten intolerance. Treatment of these conditions is based on management of the diet by exclusion (or reduction) of the responsible food or antigen."

Rev Prat, 1998 Feb, 48:4 (French journal)

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z

Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

Do you know of a friend or family member with one or more of these milk-related problems? Do them a huge favor and forward the URL or this entire file to them.

Do you know of someone who should read these newsletters? If so, have them send an empty Email to and they will receive it (automatically)!