In the digging through research for this series, one of us found this undated post written by Barry Groves, PhD, at his blog "Second Opinions."
Diet and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Information
Part 2: Foods and Multiple Sclerosis
Is it milk? . . .
The dairy connection, however, is not so clear-cut: Malosse and colleagues found a highly significant correlation between liquid cow's milk and MS prevalence, and a low, but still significant, correlation with cream or butter consumption. But they found no correlation for cheese. They say 'These results suggest that liquid cow milk could contain factor(s) – no longer present in the processed milk – influencing the clinical appearance of MS.'
Although allergic reactions are triggered by proteins, from the Malosse group's data, it's likely that the milk sugar, lactose, could be a culprit: lactose is at its highest level in liquid milk, there is a much smaller amount in cream and there is none in cheese as it has been converted to lactic acid by the fermentation process. Thus lactose fits the findings perfectly – except for one small anomaly: there is practically no lactose in butter.
Groves also goes on to speculate that the problem could be with the treatment, ie. pasteurization, of milk, but doesn't quite dig deep enough to make any conclusions. But as far as we can see, this is the only reference to a lactose connection with MS.
Past observations on MS and milk
Over the years, much scientific speculation to "milk" as a factor in MS has been given, with no real winners...
A random sampling through the years:
1967: "On this basis the following theory for development of multiple sclerosis may be proposed: In industrialized countries as those in North America and North Western Europe cow-milk feeding of new-borns is common. Cow-milk contains a five times lower amount of PUFA than mother’s milk (Albritton 1954)."
1975: "The prevalence of multiple sclerosis varies widely throughout the world, with a very definite preference for the white race. This difference seems to be caused, at least in part, by dietary habits. Lack of breastfeeding and excessive consumption of cow's milk during infancy is postulated as an important factor in the appearance of multiple sclerosis later in life."
1976: "This report emphasises the striking correlation between the world distribution of dairy production and consumption and the incidence of multiple sclerosis. The irregular distribution of multiple sclerosis has been extensively investigated and many comparative studies of specific variables undertaken. It seems likely that there could be a combination of predisposing or precipitating factors involved in its aetiology, and that some environmental phenomenon plays a part. This report suggests that milk consumption may be a common aetiological factor."
1986: "As a result of variations in related United States and New Zealand data and other pertinent observations the possibility of a link between high childhood milk intake followed by a large or sudden reduction during the adolescent growth spurt, and the subsequent incidence of MS in young adults is proposed. The possible involvement of calcium and lead metabolism is also discussed. It may be that the elusive environmental variable associated with the incidence of MS is partly a behavioural one related to western social attitudes."
1992: "We have studied the relationship between MS prevalence and dairy product consumption in 27 countries and 29 populations all over the world, with Spearman's correlation test. A good correlation between liquid cow milk and MS prevalence (rho = 0.836) was found; this correlation was highly significant (p < 0.001). A low but still significant correlation was obtained with cream or butter consumption (rho = 0.619 and rho = 0.504, respectively). No correlation was found for cheese. These results suggest that liquid cow milk could contain factor(s) - no longer present in the processed milk - influencing the clinical appearance of MS. The possible role of some dairy by-products is discussed in the light of a multifactorial etiology of MS."
2000: "Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced by sensitization with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) is a T cell-dependent autoimmune disease that reproduces the inflammatory demyelinating pathology of multiple sclerosis. We report that an encephalitogenic T cell response to MOG can be either induced or alternatively suppressed as a consequence of immunological cross-reactivity, or "molecular mimicry" with the extracellular IgV-like domain of the milk protein butyrophilin (BTN)."
2007: "Altogether, our data suggest that increased production of milk-related transcripts in the lymph nodes and blood succeeds an inflammatory event in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and MS."
2014: "Exposure to some environmental agent such as different nutrition and contact with allergens may have a role in developing multiple sclerosis (MS). The present study was aimed to evaluate the cow's milk allergy (CMA) in MS patients compared to healthy controls...There were no detection of cow's milk specific IgE in serum of MS patients and healthy subjects."
Is it lactose alone?
This issue of MS seems to revolve around the drinking of fluid milk in modern forms. Most other forms of dairy are lower in lactose, or the lactose is completely gone. Butter, cheeses, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream all may be perfectly fine dairy sources for everyone. Certainly when our herding ancestors were learning to handle dairy, they did not have much access to fresh milk as there was no way to keep it "fresh" for longer than a few minutes after milking...and certainly not pasteurized, fortified milk. They possibly drank some fresh milk, but in order to make it a moveable commodity it had to be fermented, separated, or hardened. On-demand, fluid milk in every household has only been widely available since after 1863 when pasteurization was invented. Prior to then, all milk consumed was 'fresh.' Even refrigeration would have been a limited option using ice-houses and naturally cold temperatures. Modern refrigeration also changed our milk habits in the mid-1800's and now milk is quickly chilled and never rises above a certain temperature as it is transported around the world. Now, milk is available to every man, woman, and child on the planet, if they so desire.
In a couple of emails, "mentor to the Vegetable Pharm Staff," Dr. Art Ayers of Cooling Inflammation blog, told us he thinks that lactose is mainly a problem when gut bacteria have lost the ability to degrade the lactose no matter what your genetic ability (LP/LNP) might be.
Exceptional commenter "Span_Carvan" noted in a related conversation a couple weeks ago:
Gab, you didn't read that McGill article cover to cover, did you? It's all in there. That is an A+ first-rate paper. An A+ paper covers all grounds, including all previously-mentioned contradictions, yet still forges ahead with the main thrust of the research, reconciles all prior counter-evidence while remaining skeptical about the conclusion to be drawn. The inference drawn is restricted but reasonable, only limited by the strengths of the correlations and supporting evidence. The paper said,
"Countries with higher LNP frequency populations tend to be economically disadvantaged. This is true largely in South America, Africa, and south Asia. Countries like the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, and Japan have already or are adopting more western lifestyles. Most of these countries had lower rates of IBD until towards the end of the last century. It is therefore possible that reporting of IBD rates is influenced by lack of experience with IBD or in economically less favored countries by lack of doctors and inexperience with the disease."
So East Asia isn't necessarily impoverished and those countries have very high rates of colorectal cancer. Korea has the highest rate worldwide. And their rates of IBD are rising quickly and are not reflected by the study data, which goes back to 2000 or prior years since you also need accompanying LP/NLP data. There is no question that IBD is increasing rapidly in non-European OECD countries like Korea, Japan, Chile, Mexico, etc.
From Crohn's disease in Korea: past, present, and future: "In an interesting study of the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) among young males due for conscription in 2003 to 2008, the mean annual incidence of CD increased from 1.8 per 100,000 persons in 2003 to 2004, to 2.7 per 100,000 persons in 2005 to 2006, and to 5.1 per 100,000 persons in 2007 to 2008. This indicates that the incidence of CD is increasing rapidly in young Korean males."
"5" is going up there with Western European countries like France. In the 1980-1990s, the rate was miniscule at 0.5 per 100,000. Why? Pushing milk to unsuspecting NLP populations. Milk made such people taller but they're falling prey to autoimmune issues like IBD.
The "A+ Paper" Span_Carvan referred to was: Latitude, sunshine, and human lactase phenotype distributions may contribute to geographic patterns of modern disease: the inflammatory bowel disease model.
This paper, from May 2014, also tells us:
IBD [irritable bowel disease] offers a model for evaluation of the hypothesis that LP/LNP serves an evolutionary background for a number of modern day diseases.
A conclusion...of sorts
To wrap-up the first 5 parts...There is still much to be learned about what exactly is happening at the genetic level and whether or not milk drinking by those genetically gifted with the ability to drink milk is harmful or not. We must admit we have stumbled into a conundrum. Gabriella Kadar made some interesting observations about the drinking of milk, a genetic factor, and MS. But what is worse...drinking milk in the modern way (cooled, pasteurized, homogenized) or having messed up guts from being formula fed, antibiotics as baby, or weaned onto a low fiber diet?
We will be watching closely to see if a connection to lactose and gut flora is ever made with MS (or other AI conditions).
Thanks for reading!