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the genes that allow some of us to live on dairy

It's been so long since we've had a real argument on here about whether humans were "meant to" drink cow's milk! Nice article in the NYT today about exactly what genes were selected for to make some of us lactose-tolerant, and what an advantageous adaptation it is.


Tue. Dec 12, 3:39pm

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I am type O- blood (of european ancestry) and would consider myself pretty lactos intolerant. I can eat a small amount of products with milk in them, but I'll get really sick if I eat a normal serving.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 4:18 PM

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Has NOTHING to do with your blood type -- has to do with whether you have a certain gene or not. If you are Dutch or Swedish, you probably do. Other kinds of European, out of luck.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 5:33 PM

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I'm 0 too and could drink liters of milk without any problem. it is all about genetics and how you grew up...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 5:57 PM

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OP, you make me giggle. "It's been so long since we've had a real argument on here about..."

I guess arguing about milk beats arguing about politics :-))

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 6:22 PM

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Were people lactose intolerant 100 years ago? Maybe there is something in our milk or the cow's diet.

Hard to believe a whole country would not be able to drink milk...or were they ok with it?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 7:09 PM

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i can't think of a contrarian thing to say ... but I do miss the arguments, there used to always be something interesting to read in the commmunity. PT has gotten a little dull since the elections.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 9:43 PM

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We seem to have a lot of food allergies in this day and age. Is it because the public is more medically astute? Or that a label has been given to a problem? Or maybe it's something addition to lactose intolerance (a pretty recent bit of everyday terminology), what about people being hospitalized or - worse - eulogized after eating half a peanut? I don't remember hearing about that 20 years ago either. I'd love to see the anthropologic rationalization for that one too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006, 12:21 AM

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Most adults are lactose intolerant, worldwide. It was that way 20 years ago, 100 years ago, and 1000 years ago. The interesting thing is that some genes (independent and convergent) allowing adult lactose tolerance became fixed in Scandinavian and East African populations. Adult lactose tolerance confers a big survival advantage in time of drought or famine, so where the mutations occurred they became fixed relatively quickly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006, 10:24 AM

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blood type is related to genetics.

And my type O cousin says he doesn't have a problem with milk but has the most disgusting acne that he can't clear up- despite medication. Go figure he drinks a gallon of milk every 2-3 days. Last year I would have told you I don't have a problem with wheat- until I eliminated it and no longer suffered from allergies, asthma, and depression. Not to mention I lost weight quickly.

Too often we don't think that it could be the food we're eating that is making us sick/depressed/fat/tired/insert-other-ailment-here- we instead say it's "just my genes" or we simply supress symptoms with drugs.

Thursday, December 14, 2006, 11:18 PM

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Um yeah, there IS a gene for agglutinogen (A, B, O, AB) and another for rhesus factor (-/+). Not even on the same chromosome as the genes discussed in this article. Not related to one another, any more than either is related to the gene that makes some people's second toes longer than their big toes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006, 11:49 PM

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I'm the original type O poster...and my second toe is longer than my first! haha.
I don't really know too much about lactose intolerance, but I have heard that type O's have weaker stomaches and more acidic stomaches. Anyway, I've also read that a lot of African-decendants are type O (the original blood type, or so I've read) and there are a large percentage of African-Americans who are lactose intolerant. Meaning--there is a connection between blood-type and lactose tolerance/intolerance. I'll have to research more about this because now I'm interested.

And to the poster with the family member with acne: I definitely believe diet has a lot to do with this. So, you may be more prone to acne, but eating foods with a lot of pesticides on them seems to contribute to acne. If he's not drinking organic milk, and other organic foods, he may be causing his acne to get worse.

Friday, December 15, 2006, 1:52 PM

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