April 20th, 2010
06:07 PM ET

Many who think they’re lactose intolerant aren’t, panel says

By Trisha Henry
CNN Medical Producer

30 to 50 million Americans fear they are lactose intolerant. But are they?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/20/art.milk.comstock.jpg caption="According to a new report, many people who think they're lactose intolerant may not be"]Most people have some degree of difficulty digesting dairy, experts believe. One recent report suggested that the symptom trigger was not simply consuming dairy, but specifically the amount and the form.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance - diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas and/or bloating - occur after drinking or eating milk products. While most babies are born with enough of a specific enzyme in the small intestine to digest milk, this decreases and levels off as we mature into adults. You shouldn't have more symptoms at 60 than at 15, assuming your diet stays the same, says Dr. Marshall A. Wolf, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

A 14-member panel, organized by the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Program, looked at more than 35 studies. The experts were surprised to learn that many people avoid drinking milk in fear of getting sick when their stomachs could most likely handle more than they think. People are self-diagnosing based on previous symptoms or their family and ethnic backgrounds without actually getting a diagnosis from a doctor, the panel concluded. The bottom line: People who think they are lactose intolerant need to consider whether they are getting enough nutrients before cutting milk from their diet. The panel also found that limiting consumption of dairy foods containing lactose can leave many people without the necessary amount of calcium and vitamin D important for bone growth, and can lead to osteoporosis and other adverse health outcomes.

"Many people, having observed symptoms of lactose intolerance, assume they are allergic to milk and therefore avoid it completely,” said Wolf, a member of the panel. “But it turns out, it's not an allergy, it's a quantitative problem. Even those without the necessary enzyme can digest small amounts” of dairy.

However he does say that there is still a lot to learn on this topic. "Theoretically, if you replace the nutrients you get in milk with other food sources, you probably would end up neutral but we don't know that."

The report suggests that lactose intolerant consumers should not be afraid to start incorporating more dairy into their diet. One tip, the experts say, is to drink milk at different times throughout the day rather than all at once. Also, eat or drink dairy products with other foods. The report also recommends yogurt and cheese as a better alternative to milk.

Visit the Consensus Development Program http://consensus.nih.gov/ to read more about the report.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. emily

    I discovered I couldn't digest milk in my mid-30's. Once I cut out milk, I was fine. I can, however, digest yogurt with no problem. The thing that's really weird is I can digest ice cream made with pure cream, but not ice cream with a lot of milk in it. Very strange. Needless to say, Lactaid is my best friend if we are eating out.

    April 20, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kerry

      My 17 year-old daughter is very similar to you: some milk products make her sick, others do not. She has learned when she needs to take a lactose pill. Interestingly, even certain cheeses she is fine with, but there are certain types which can do her in.

      August 11, 2010 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • Cbd Review

      Where did you learn so much about this stuff? Excellent post you have got here. I just shared this on my website and 51 people have already read it! And to think, I was really confused a seconds ago. This website really keeps me really up to date on the latest news happening around me and around the country. I really enjoy your writing structure and how well the concepts are conveyed.


      December 20, 2018 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  2. kmcg

    Or.. maybe they avoid milk because they actually DO have symptoms of indigestion??? I think it is absolutely unfair to dismiss people's symptoms of indigestion after consuming dairy.

    I'm also not surprised that this doctor is from the US. Evolutionarily speaking, many people in the world do NOT have good lactose tolerance. However, people with long histories of pastoralism in their families do tend to digest milk better, and this is often seen in Western European (white-US) backgrounds...thus, what the majority of the US is still used to.

    However, we now live in a multi-cultural society, and we must be cognizant and aware of the different histories of people in our communities. I think this doctor would do much better to accept people's discomfort as their reality and then educate them on how to make sure they are getting sufficient calcium and Vitamin D from other sources.

    Even "slight" discomfort is discomfort – listen to your patients sir!

    April 20, 2010 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bryan Little

    Among black and Asian cultures lactose intolerance is actually very high...it's puzzling that there continues to be pressure to drink milk. Despite the fact that babies outgrow much of their intolerance, that in itself should be a clue that it may not be designed for humans to digest. A balanced diet with something as simple as soy actually provides more than enough calcium and vitamin D...less fattening too.

    April 20, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Matt

    One thing they failed to mention in this article is that there are several brands of lactose free milk. I have been lactose intolerant my entire adult life, but still consume quite a bit of milk of the lactose free variety.

    April 20, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Middle-aged in L.A.

    "You shouldn't have more symptoms at 60 than at 15"
    Sorry, this statement just does not wash with me. I'm 46, and the experience I've had is the same as many of my middle-aged girlfriends: As a kid and younger adult I pigged out on ice cream, milkshakes, cereal with milk, cottage cheese, etc. with no adverse effects whatsoever. Believe me, I would've noticed...it wasn't unusual for me to scarf a Ben & Jerry's pint in one sitting after a particularly bad breakup 🙂 In my late 30s I started having unexplained symptoms of bloating, gas, and discomfort, and after a few years finally made the connection with all my favorite milky foods. Hello chocolate almond milk and soy ice cream. Sigh...

    April 20, 2010 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Penny Simpson

    I am white, Celtic in origin, i.e. of a dairy heritage, and never experienced lactose intolerance before menopause. After, I found my sinuses stuffed up after drinking fresh or powdered skim milk in my morning coffee, the only time I drank milk. I tested this over time, drinking the milk one week, and not the next, and going back to drinking the milk the third week. Proper ABA experimental design.
    I have no problem with yogurt, cheese or cream. Lactose reduced milk is fine also. It isn't hormones in milk, because I am Canadian, and don't drink or eat any U.S. dairy products. I am very much happier having cut out fresh or high lactose cow's milk.

    April 20, 2010 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sarah

    Humans are naturally not meant to drink cow's milk ever, and are not meant to drink milk after they are grown up. Fine if someone wants to drink milk anyway, but it should not be encouraged for those who do not digest it properly as they can receive all the necessary nutrients without milk.

    April 20, 2010 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lou Frndak

    If I have even a small amount of dairy, even cheese, I'm in the bathroom for the next several hours with severe diarrhea. It doesn't matter if it's lactose intolerance or something else. It isn't in my head, as this column seems to imply, and I don't need a doctor to tell me I can't drink milk.

    April 20, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Stephen

    In the New England Journal of Medicine (7/1992), pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk – in fact, the test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes. That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer from osteoporosis. Lipase in raw milk helps the body digest and utilize butterfat.

    The answer to lactose intolerance? Consume raw dairy. Eliminate the consumption of any pasteurized dairy product that is devoid of all enzyme content not to mention the compromising of its mineral content such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur, not to mention any and all trace minerals which in turn replaces these natural nutrients with synthetic vitamin D3 and D2 (the latter being toxic and has been linked to heart disease). Don't get me started on the homogenization process.

    April 20, 2010 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Krissy

    I was diagnosed by a doctor 14 years ago! I would eat a bowl of cereal, and 30 minutes later, I had the worst runs! I tested it too with eating ice cream and still had the same sympthoms. When I didn't eat ice cream or something with milk nothing would happen. I was 13 when I was diagnosed and I still have it! I tried eating ice cream without those lactaid pills and I had the runs!

    April 20, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. hlthmn

    Isn't it interesting to note that the countries that consume the most dairy have the highest rates of Osteoporosis. Dairy milk is for baby cows not people.

    April 20, 2010 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Barbara L

    I was having issues with severe diarrhea and 3 different docs told me (via a bunch of tests) what I don't have. When I stopped consuming dairy, my issues with diarrhea lighted up immensely. I am not going to start up consuming any amount of dairy, cause I do have a life. But I would recommend that people who are having issues with diarrhea and such to stop eating dairy for a month, and then, if that has no effect, to start back up eating/drinking dairy.

    April 20, 2010 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kay Cook

    I appreciate this story but am disappointed that it doesn't address the fact that there are many of us who are truly milk intolerant and this story gives the impression that we are faking. I have been dairy intolerant since birth and now, at almost 50, I must avoid all dairy including lactose in mediations, all ingredients that can be made from dairy such as natural and artificial flavoring, to name only 2, as well as foods processed in facilities and on equipment that also processes dairy. These restrictions have dramatically changed how and where I can eat and I will never trust anything again that I do not cook myself. The fact is that in the general population, food allergies, intolerances and lactose intolerance are lumped together and thought of as one by many people. I realize that your article wasn't about food intolerances and allergies, however, I feel it is implied by it's omission that we are pretending and that couldn't be further from the truth.

    April 20, 2010 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Cassie A

    I have not been officially diagnosed with lactose intolerance, but since being a teenager have suffered the symptoms described above after eating what I consider to be 'processed' dairy i.e cheesecake, ice cream, cream cheese frosting (lots of bathroom time). I'm glad you mentioned quantity and form of the dairy product. I do just fine with yogurt, the plain, unflavored, unwhipped kind, and most hard cheeses – which I think are better for me than those rich, calorie-filled desserts that made me sick.

    April 21, 2010 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ana44

    Speak for yourself. You have no idea how people suffer from this. Perhaps the dairy industry is paying for this 'report.' The small amount that is tolerable is very small indeed. Further, no human needs to drink fatty cows milk; it's for baby cows.
    Goat and Sheeps milk are much closer to human mother's milk chemically and generally tolerable to lactose intolerants. Same with cheese. Frankly, I've found almond milk is excellent, when milk is necessary. Oatmeal doesn't require milk because it makes it's own milk when cooked with a little extra water.

    April 21, 2010 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Woods Casey

      I discovered this while on Twitter. You're totally a pro. How many articles do you usually write in any given week? My boyfriend told me they might want to become a paid teacher on this topic some day. Funny thing I use to believe I was a pro on this subject before reading your site but it turns out, I'm still a student. Offering a helping hand in that effort is a great way to create a real difference in your community.


      December 23, 2018 at 01:49 | Report abuse |
  16. MLK

    Dr. Gupta, I suspect that drug allergies may play a role in the discomfort so many people experience with dairy products.

    I received a diagnosis of lactose intolerance, but it turns out that I can drink organic milk. I cannot tolerate LactAid, which contains milk-digesting enzymes. When I happened to try organic milk products, I discovered that I can manage quite well. I now suspect, therefore, that my uncomfortable reaction to regular milk products may be the consequence of antibiotic residues. I am allergic to most antibiotics.

    I realize that anecdotal evidence is among our least reliable, therefore, I would like to see this possibility investigated, given that it seems a plausible explanation for my inability to tolerate non-organic dairy products.


    April 21, 2010 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Woods Casey

      I have always been intrigued about this topic, I am planning on doing more investigating on the subject some day soon. Your write ups really makes me think a lot. I am just in absolute disbelief by what I am seeing on this blog. What you typed there was very informative.


      December 23, 2018 at 07:29 | Report abuse |
  17. AGeek

    Great article. That's for summarily dismissing those of us who actually do have problems with dairy. You've just green-lighted a "no big deal" mentality to restaurants who were barely accommodating to begin with. Dairy is generally cow's milk. A nutrient designed by nature for the benefit of calf development, not digestion by humans. The stuff is laden with fat and, unless you're paying big bucks, hormones and all manner of other man-made garbage. Get your calcium from dark, leafy greens and other sources. I wonder how much Trisha Henry was paid by the dairy industry for this piece ...no doctor I've ever known has recommended dairy when other sources of calcium, et al. are available.

    April 21, 2010 at 05:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. one whos knows

    Your info is bogus!...nearly 60 years of troubles. Have tried everything from doctors and natural resources.Unless one has Mega bucks that can afford the latest tech. Nothing works. I know....Unless you have this condition your self, You are unable to know the whole truth, Do not speak for me, you can't....

    April 21, 2010 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wine insiders review

      Honestly, this might be only possible because of people like you. Have you attempted to reach out to different experts that are knowledgeable about this topic? You really should be looked at as a game changer in your industry. I am no expert but it seems to me like this information would be really valuable if it were given to the people who knew how to apply it.


      December 28, 2018 at 02:42 | Report abuse |
  19. calico

    What a load of crap. We know from science that the production of the enzyme needed to digest milk tapers off as humans hit adulthood. It's SCIENCE. In some racial groups, almost no people produce this enzyme anymore as adults, and will have at least milk reactions to dairy. The research is flawed: they never talked to all the people who eat dairy and have "irregularity" or "gas" but don't understand why.

    The truth is that cow milk is designed for a newborn COW. Humans were designed to nurse as infants, then not nurse again. Humans are the only things on this planet that consume the milk of another species. Already the idea seems strange. It's that we were brought up in a culture that accepts it. And powerful dairy producers and bottlers have lobbyists in Washington helping to "advise" the federal government on policy. (Check out the movie Food Inc for details on the connections between big agri-business and fed leadership roles)

    Here's another tidbit: milk is not the perfect health food. We have one of the highest consumption per capita of dairy, yet we also have one of the highest Osteoperosis rates in the world. It's not an idea source of calcium. Americans are not protein deficient, so we don't need the protein. It does have SATURATED FAT and CHOLESTEROL, both of which we don't need. It has added calories, which is bad in a country where a significant % of adults have diet-related (type 2) Diabetes.

    April 21, 2010 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tither

    I am Lactose Intolerant, but before I consume any dairy product that I know will bother me, I take the otc lactase enzyme tablets. I use 2 for cheese burgers and sandwiches; 3 for cheese (lasagna, baked ziti, loaded baked potato); 4 for pizza (anything overly cheesey) and ice cream. Those that are cutting milk completely out of their diets obviously have never heard of the Lactaid milk. It tastes just like regular milk and is delicious. Perfect for dunking Oreos.

    April 21, 2010 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Hally

    If people prefer to eat less dairy, they can simply take calcium/vitamin D supplements. I believe it's wrong for doctors to tell people to eat more dairy products or that they need dairy for good health– dairy cows are often treated horribly, and milk contains hormones and antibiotics that are harmful to human health and the environment. Even organic dairy products contain hormones, saturated fat, and possibly antibiotics. We DO know that vegan children and adults are healthy as long as they eat a varied diet and supplements, if they need them, and they are probably healthier than the rest of us eating our fat and sugar-filled dairy products! I To each their own, but don't believe you need dairy products to be healthy; that is a myth.

    April 21, 2010 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Natcit

    I think it is best to have complete cessation for about 2-3 weeks to see the impact (namely symptoms). Need to watch out for milk sources such as creamer, icecream. After this period, one can start again, and note immediate impact. Note: I am not a medical doctor.

    April 21, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Susan Evans

    I think the article missed an important medical issue. Many people who show signs of lactose intolerance are actually suffering from celiac sprue disease and will no longer show these symptoms if they cut celiac (wheat and other foods) from their diet. Lactose intolerance is one of the important symptoms of this disease, which is not an allergy.

    April 21, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. KMF

    Symptoms of lactose intolerance are often immediate and easy to spot. The supposition presented here that people draw wrong conclusions based on ethnicity and stuff is kind of silly. In truth, stomach cramps and diarrhea are likely the reason people avoid milk.

    Further, it is troubling that the author both acknowledges the problem, but suggests only changes in dairy consumption as an alternative. Why not suggest eating more wholesome foods as an alternative? If milk is a problem, why insist that it must be consumed; why not suggest substitutions?

    April 21, 2010 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Billy Jr

    I don't need an imbecilic so-called doctor to tell me whether I have a lactose intolerance or not. The proof is in the reaction to a bowl of cheerios with whole milk. These people want you to run to them every time you sneeze, yet in my experience, they are largely clueless. The popluace should learn to rely on themselves more, and doctors less.
    And, as our family physician used to say, Don't worry, if you die, you die. Just to raise awareness.

    April 21, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pet Cbd

      I really appreciate your efforts and I'm waiting for the next article. You really should be thanked way more often than you are. It's odd to see this from you. This just changed my mind on more than a few things.


      December 26, 2018 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  26. Nic

    I thought I was lactose intolerant for 7 years because my doctor told me I was when I was having a lot of lower digestive complaints. It wasn't until my gastroenterologist gave me a lactose intolerance test last year that I discovered I really wasn't intolerant. I have always noticed strange things, like I can eat certain cheeses (hard and goat cheese), but I can't handle yogurt (which "lactose intolerant" people are supposed to be able to handle best). The real issue that I just discovered through a more detailed blood test is that I have a food sensitivity to whey, yogurt, and eggs. Dig deeper and don't stop until you find the answers!

    April 21, 2010 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Belize donation

      Excellent blog you have got here. Might you have Youtube videos on the subject? I would like to say cool blog! You ever come into problems of website visitors reposting these concepts without asking you first?


      December 28, 2018 at 11:04 | Report abuse |
  27. charlie maultsby

    People that don't normaly drink milk and then drink probably have reactions because the stomachs don't have the enzyme that digests milk properly. This is similar I think to someone that doesn't eat meat and then tries to start eating it and their stomach has a reaction.Most all people start out drinking milk of some sort when they are babies with no reaction. I definitely believe people that use lactose intolerant are in reality not.

    April 21, 2010 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Erin

    "People who think they are lactose intolerant need to consider whether they are getting enough nutrients before cutting milk from their diet. "

    No one needs to drink milk to live healthily.

    "The panel also found that limiting consumption of dairy foods containing lactose can leave many people without the necessary amount of calcium and vitamin D important for bone growth, and can lead to osteoporosis and other adverse health outcomes."

    There are higher levels of osteoporosis in countries where the most dairy products are consumed, and vice versa. Read The China Study!

    Cow's milk is for baby cows!

    April 21, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. HJS

    Seeing an MD to discuss lactose intolerance seems like overkill. To my knowledge, there is no lab test for it. MDs would work off of patient reported symptoms and suggest changes in diet to diagnose. Seems like you could do that yourself.
    The article also fails to mention that there are lactase pills for the lactose intolerant. Simple, easy, relatively cheap.

    April 21, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. debbie

    Emily – Yogurt has very little lactose because the good bacteria have already broken it down. Also, heavy cream has very little milk sugar (lactose). Check the sugar content on a heavy cream container, and compare with that of skim milk.

    April 21, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marketing Consultant

      You have just made my year a great one! On a scale going from 1 to 10, You're an 11. Do you really think this new trend will keep going into the next few months? Wow, that's unbelievable. Funny thing I believed I knew what I was talking about before seeing your blog but it turns out I am a dummy. It is crazy how much this world is changing all the time and I love how much your site always is current with the latest news and information.


      December 16, 2018 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
  31. Betty

    I'm glad you did this study. I basically cut whole milk out of my diet many years ago because of my lactose intolerance. The gas it caused me was so bad it became a problem with my husband and my kids. I resorted to drinking 2% lactose free milk. However, I am now considering switching to Smart Balance lactose free fat free milk which is suppose to be healthier. Do you think there's enough calcium in the lactose free milks? Note: I have cut most dairy products because I have to watch my borderline high cholesterol so it is not affected as well with eggs.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. dom625

    Whoa, whoa, whoa...a lot of people posting here are getting all worked up over this and they really should not be. Ms. Henry is not saying that lactose intolerance is completely imaginary and that everyone who says they have it is crazy. She is simply saying that some people who say that they are lactose intolerant may not be. She's not personally attacking each and every one of you!

    I have a few points to make:
    1. Soy and almond "milks" ARE NOT milk! Neither plant has mammary glands, therefore neither plant can produce milk. This is a small gripe, but it bugs me just the same.
    2. Your body produces lactase specifically to digest lactose. Some people may carry a gene that diminishes or completely cuts out production of this enzyme. This does not mean that you are not to consume dairy products once you hit a certain age. It just means that some people should not consume dairy because of their genetics.
    3. Your body was not meant to live on produce alone. Your teeth are shaped to both tear meat and grind produce. Your body produces enzymes to digest both meat and produce. However, you cannot completely digest produce–you would need a much larger digestive tract (think cow or deer sized) and a specific mixture of bacteria to aid the process. Okay, this doesn't involve dairy, but vegans bug me when they tell me that I shouldn't eat meat.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. I will continue to serve my sons milk at least three times a day–and not "soy milk" but the good old-fashioned cow's milk. My concession is that I buy 1% milk to limit the fat content. And we will continue to use butter and eat yogurt and ice cream. You should do what makes you happy.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Natcit

    I noticed as a child I had aversion to smell of milk, the only way I could take it as a child was with favor. I still cant drink raw milk. I found a few cousins have the same aversion. I cant be sure if I am lactose intolerant in medical sense, But perhaps, the aversion may be nature's way of signaling intolerance? Do people with clinically diagnosed lactose intolerance have an aversion to raw milk smell or taste?

    Just a question.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. bill

    “But it turns out, it's not an allergy, it's a quantitative problem. Even those without the necessary enzyme can digest small amounts” of dairy."

    Yeah, that is because things like cheese and yogurt have a lesser amount of lactose (the sugars in dairy) than straight milk. I've always been lactose intolerant but can eat small amounts of cheese and yogurt. But give me a glass of milk, and it feels like I have dry-wall tacks in my stomach.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. CH

    Susan Evans makes a good point- lactose intolerance could actually be a symptom of celiac or wheat/gluten intolerance.

    Also, goat's milk is a tasty alternative to cow's milk and is more easily digestable.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Franklin Leach

    An important problem not discussed is the presence of lactose in many medications. It is used as a filter. My wife must take lactaid with many of her medication.

    Why should I know anything about this?

    Professor emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at a research instutition.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. TBashaw

    Susan Evans: Your comment is the only meaningful one here. No one, not even the U.S. medical community seems to know or understand Celiac disease. Ever been diagnosed with IBS? Don't worry – most people with "unexplained" GI symptoms are. "Eat more fiber!" IBS has been the catch-all diagnosis when our unenlightened, blinkers-on medical professionals refuse to acknowledge what European countries have known forever – Celiac sprue is the cause of more GI (and many other non-GI symptoms) than so-called "IBS". 'Lactose intolerant' – maybe not; try going gluten-free for two or three years – you may (like me) be delighted to know you can incorporate cheese, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese – and yes a glass of milk (I drink the milk which I don't think is any worse than eating the flesh). There are underlying causes for lactose intolerance, one of the foremost being Celiac sprue. Takes about 7 years in the U.S. to be diagnosed with C.D. Way to go medical community. 1 in 133 people have C.D., most don't know it, and are miserable, coping with "IBS"/"lactose intolerant" symtpoms, even when they believe they are eating right/not drinking milk. GLUTEN may be the culprit making your life miserable. In Europe, a test for C.D. is as common as our cholesterol test in the U.S. Ridiculous how our medical community has ignored this basic, simple autoimmune disease. Quit eating gluten and your small intestinal villi heal themselves and you can begin digesting food correctly again (that being in the small intestine rather than the large which is why the distressful GI symptoms – large intestine is not made for that absorption, which doesn't happen as it should in the small intestine 'cz the villi are destroyed/impaired so food passes through to the large one). Read up on Celiac disease and see if maybe Gluten could be your underlying cause rather than just milk itself. I had symptoms after drinking milk long before I started having symptoms after eating gluten. Just progressively got worse to where even cutting out milk didn't stop the symptoms – eating a sandwich would cause symptoms, eating spaghetti ... oh and that bowl of cheerios – I ate cereal without milk ... crunched on cheerios like tortilla chips, great snack. Except for that gluten.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Casey

    Yeah, we self-diagnose because we cannot stand all the meds we get put on by the docs – if they take us seriously at all. I can't do milk. Yogurt is okay... hard cheeses, too. I get plenty of calcium but I cannot force my kids to drink milk when I don't do it. Especialy since the younger one isn't just intolerant but explosively intolerant – and humans are intolerant of the odors he emits when he drinks it. Not just gas, either. Neither of us is ALLERGIC to milk, we just can't digest it. So we go for other dairy.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. susan

    Lactose intolerance is the condition where inadequate enzyme lactase is present to digest the lactose (milk sugar molecules.) It is worse when one eats more concentrated forms of lactose (whey, for example) or on an empty stomach. Most people can tolerate some lactose, so are able to eat yogurt (the lactose is pre-digested by the enzymes in yogurt) hard cheese (again, enzymes digested it) and butter or cream (the lactose is in the whey, not the cream.)
    Everyone who takes a daily probiotic can tolerate more lactose. In addition, you can safely take lactase enzyme caplets or daily lactose intolerance digestives and never again need to curtail your diet for fear of pain or diarrhea. Also, many products are out there at the regular grocery stores for lactose intolerant people, such as cottage cheese and milk.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cbd Caps

      You've just made my year a great one. I almost always read these blogs but I wish you would create more content. Your writing style reminds me of my girlfriend. This has been such a really awesome experience. I truly love your writing style and how well you express your ideas. I seriously think this blog demands a lot more thought.


      December 17, 2018 at 09:42 | Report abuse |
    • Cbd Cream

      This is an great, an eye-popper for sure! I believe it's about time that we connected because I'd really like to talk to you about some of the points you've brought up here. My boyfriend told me they would like to become a paid teacher on this subject some day. When I first arrived here I thought I knew a lot about this however now I feel like I don't know what I am talking about. Great tips and really simple to comprehend.


      December 22, 2018 at 07:24 | Report abuse |
  40. DNADOC

    Stephen states:
    "In the New England Journal of Medicine (7/1992), pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk – in fact, the test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes. That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer from osteoporosis. Lipase in raw milk helps the body digest and utilize butterfat."

    No sir. This statement is incorrect in every way. Enzymes are proteins and not alive, and therefore cannot be killed. Pasteurization kills bacteria (which are generally alive).

    Also, there are no NEJM articles from July of 92 regarding pasteurization. The disease osteoporosis doesn't have anything to do with the destruction of milk enzymes, it's all about the calcium- an element, not a protein or a bacteria.

    What "raw" (sic. unpasteurized) milk will do for you is put you more at risk for any number of life-threatening diseases including brucellosis, Listeriosis, campylobacteriosis, E.coli poisoning, Staphylococcal food poisoning, Salmonella, and others.

    Don't even get me started on what is wrong with your second paragraph.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Sue

    Thank you SARAH and hlthmn – Humans are not meant to drink cows milk. Baby cows are meant to drink it only. And homogenizing is a very bad thing. I was looking to see if this article was sponsored by the American Dairy Association to promote their products. There are many other foods that are healthy with calcium rather than milk!

    April 21, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Hilary

    This is ridiculous. The report is written by a program that is partnered with the USDA, which benefits from people drinking more milk.
    Many other drinks are supplemented with calcium and vitamin D these days- you don't need to drink milk. You can get more calcium and vitamin D from many orange juices and soy milks than you can from most milk.
    By drinking milk you are supporting the cruel business of dairy and slaughter houses while injesting antibiotics, hormones, and pus. Don't listen to this inaccurate report.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Nancy

    I am lactose intolerant as diagnosed by a doctor. It started in my early 20's and has progressed steadily to now almost 50. I have to chew 2 Lactaid tablets for each piece of pizza I eat, and I order it with light cheese. I can't take Ibuprofen or Mobic for pain because they are coated with lactose for easier swallowing. I have to take Naprosen or something stronger. Lactaid supplements are very expensive, about $10 for a package of 30. So I limit my dairy and take Caltrate-D for calcium/Vitamin D. Because I have severly limited my dairy for most of adult life, my chloresteral has never been above 160. Yes, for a while it was trendy to be lactose intolerant, but like other syndromes of the month, this has faded quite a bit. But it did bring more awareness to the problem and more products are out there for us now. Breyer's Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream has allowed me to eat ice cream for the first time in over 20 years - no amount of Lactain tablets made it tolerable for me. Just don't be so dismissive for those of us who truly suffer when we eat dairy.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. SciChick

    I had the symptoms of lactose intolerance when I was 16. After reducing my dairy intake, I still had some problems. Turned out that I have an intolerance to apples and pears. At age 19 I had problems again. And AGAIN, the doctors thought it was lactose intolerance. I got so fed up, I asked for a lactose intolerance test. Turns out it was negative.

    Now at age 25 I found out (from a nutritionist, not a doctor) that I have a fructose absorption disorder. It presents like lactose intolerance, but it's in response to too much fructose. It is VERY difficult to tell the difference because both dairy and fructose are in a TON of products. This is likely an extremely common disorder. So the next time the corn lobby tells you that high fructose corn syrup is 'just like sugar,' ignore them and go to the doctor. There are easy and inexpensive tests for lactose and fructose intolerance. I suggest you get tested.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cbd Edibles

      You are an great writer. I was reading your article while on a boat. Found this while on Pinterest and I am so glad we connected. If you should ever make it out to Massachusetts you may stay at my place.


      December 18, 2018 at 01:57 | Report abuse |
  45. poobeansmom

    One night about 16 years ago I started feeling extremely ill after eating Italian food, one of my favorite meals. I actually had to leave the restaurant mid-dessert, hunched over and in terrible pain. After some time, the pain went away. I had quite a few more of these reactions to food, but never understood what was causing it. Fearful of some awful disease, I went to a gastroenterologist who, after hearing what I had eaten and the symptoms thereafter, immediately said "lactose intolerance" and sent me for testing. I had never heard of this condition and was appalled, because I love milk and drank copious amounts of it as a kid, with absolutely no problem. Then in my early 40's completely out of the blue I developed it. At the time there were few if any lactose free products and I found it to be very difficult to handle. If we went out to eat I had to ask a million questions about what went into every dish. It was a big pain in the neck. I started to read labels and found that practically everything has something in it relating to dairy products, even medications.My doctor said to try the pills that deal with the lactose, but for some reason these never helped, no matter how many I took. Why I can eat lactose free food but the pills don't help is a mystery to me. I'm not a big ice cream eater but sometimes get a yen and always have Lactaid ice cream in the freezer. It's absolutely delish and there's no difference in taste whatsoever. I tried to avoid all dairy at all times because the few minutes of enjoyment are forgotten in the aftermath of severe cramping, diarrhea etc. Even though I've read that there are cheeses that are naturally lactose free I really try to stay away from them, although I would love to eat them. I try to look at this condition in a positive way because ice cream and cheese and sour cream and whipped cream all have high contents of cholesterol. If I wasn't lactose intolerant I'd be eating the real thing and my cholesterol would be even higher than it is now. We're lucky that today there are so many products that are lactose free. Not to say that my tongue doesn't hang out when I see a gorgeous piece of cheesecake, but there are worse things in the world than going without cheesecake. I'm grateful for what I can eat. I've found wonderful recipes and recently made a key lime pie to die for using Tofutti. I kid you not – it was as good as any "real" key lime pie I ate years ago. It may not kill us, but it's not an easy condition to have and most of all it's definitely a REAL condition. The article says we, the lactose intolerant, should start incorporating more dairy into our diets. That's not the most helpful thing to say to people who can't get out of the bathroom after they've eaten dairy.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Elizabeth

    The fact is: I drink dairy milk, I get cramps and diarreha. I don't drink dairy milk, I'm fine!

    I may not be "lactose" intolerant because it may not be the actual lactose that's doing me in, but I don't have a better diagnosis for the symptoms that result from drinking dairy milk.

    Oddly enough, while all liquid dairy causes trouble, I can usually eat hard dairy (cheese) without issue. I can likewise cook with dairy and not get sick. There is definitely SOMETHING about dairy milk that will affect me, but I'm curious as to why only certain forms do the deed.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Chad

    I would like to point out that I have absolutely no food allergies to anything and have not had any type of foodborne illness, no matter how horrible the food was.

    I am not bragging, my point being that in the view of the AMA, I am an extreme oddity, far from the norm. I wonder how that can be possible?

    April 21, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. SRG

    While this article has some good points it also neglects the human touch and giving people credit for having enough sense to know what makes them feel sick. My 7 y/o IS lactose intolerant. We did not have medical tests to find this out, but did consult with our nurse on how to test it and then adjust to it. Everyday my child complained about his stomach hurting. As soon as we took lactose rich milk out of the equation and starting drinking lactose free and soy he did not have stomach aches all the time. He can tolerate yogurt and cream soups and such. I still cook with regular milk unless the recipe calls for a lot of it, then I substitute. If he goes to gramma's and eats a lot of ice cream then you can bet his stomach will be messed up. I think part of the point the article was trying to make is that sometimes people carry it to extremes and cut all dairy related foods out of their diet when it may not be necessary to do so. However, that is each individuals decision to make.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. A

    I don't need a doctor to tell me that I am lactose intolerant and it's not in my head. If I take an OTC lactase supplement (like Lactaid) when eating dairy, I have no problems. If I eat dairy without one, then I get severe cramping and spend the next 30 min in the bathroom!

    I drink soy milk instead of regular milk because I don't tolerate milk well even with the lactase pills. But cheese, yogurt, ice cream...no problem as long as I take a lactase supplement with it. You don't have to give up dairy just because you are lactose intolerant!

    April 21, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. DP2010

    We know that. That's why we call it lactose INTOLERANCE, not lactose ALLERGY. We know we can handle small doses or low concentrations of lactose.

    Who are these people who drink glasses of milk and then conclude they can't have cheddar cheese? I'm asking out of facetiousness. I don't think they exist.

    April 21, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Woods Casey

      Neat post. But I often miss the way things were. I will be a regular visitor to your site from here on out. You should really be thanked for your work way more often. So thanks! This is what I was looking for.


      December 23, 2018 at 05:00 | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply to Stefan Rizzo


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.