Lactose Intolerance

By Gabriele Da Silva

Disease's Mutation and Inheritance

Lactose intolerance is when the body doesn't produce enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose which is the sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance is caused by mutations in the LCT gene. The LCT gene provides instructions for making the lactase enzyme. The type of lactose intolerance that occurs in infants is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. Both copies of the LCT gene in each cell have mutations. GHR states "The prevalence of lactose intolerance is lowest in populations with a long history of dependence on unfermented milk products as an important food source. For example, only about 5 percent of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant."

Lactose Intolerance Symptons

The symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pain on lower abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

People Affected by Disease

70% of the human population are lactose intolerant. We were all made to be lactose intolerant so it's natural for us not to be able to digest it. In Asian countries 90% of the population are lactose intolerant. Metsol states "This condition is common in Asian, African, African-American, Native American, and Mediterranean populations than it is among northern and western Europeans."
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Whey Protein

For lactose consumers whey protein produces muscle mass and weight loss. Whey protein cannot be consumed by lactose intolerant people because of its lactose. states "Most whey protein powders contain 0.1 gram of lactose per tablespoon of powder, according to the Whey Protein Institute. If you’re severely lactose intolerant, you may need to use a lactose-free protein powder, such as a soy-based protein powder."
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To Diagnose the Disease (from Mayo Clinic)

  • "Lactose tolerance test. The lactose tolerance test gauges your body's reaction to a liquid that contains high levels of lactose. Two hours after drinking the liquid, you'll undergo blood tests to measure the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. If your glucose level doesn't rise, it means your body isn't properly digesting and absorbing the lactose-filled drink.
  • Hydrogen breath test. This test also requires you to drink a liquid that contains high levels of lactose. Then your doctor measures the amount of hydrogen in your breath at regular intervals. Normally, very little hydrogen is detectable. However, if your body doesn't digest the lactose, it will ferment in the colon, releasing hydrogen and other gases, which are absorbed by your intestines and eventually exhaled. Larger than normal amounts of exhaled hydrogen measured during a breath test indicate that you aren't fully digesting and absorbing lactose.
  • Stool acidity test. For infants and children who can't undergo other tests, a stool acidity test may be used. The fermenting of undigested lactose creates lactic acid and other acids that can be detected in a stool sample."

Treating the Disease

Ways to naturally treat lactose intolerance in adults:

  • Avoid all milk and dairy products
  • Add enzymes like lactase into milk to break down the lactose
  • Consume dairy products with other foods
  • Put powered cocoa into the milk

Ethical implications of diagnosis and treatment (from

"We studied 166 hospitalized male patients to determine the clinical importance of tolerance-test-determined "lactose intolerance," assumed to affect most of the world's adults. Abnormal lactose tolerance tests were found in 81% of 98 blacks, 12% of 59 whites of Scandinavian or Northwestern European extraction, and three of nine non-European whites. Seventy-two per cent of the "lactose-intolerant" subjects had previously realized that milk drinking could induce abdominal and bowel symptoms. Two hundred and forty milliliters of low-fat milk produced gaseousness or cramps in 59% of 44 "lactose-intolerant" men, and 68% were symptomatic with the equivalent amount of lactose. None of 18 "lactose-tolerant" men noted symptoms with milk or lactose. Refusal to drink 240 ml of low-fat milk served with meals correlated significantly with "lactose-intolerance": 31.4% versus 12.9% among "lactose-tolerant" patients."


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