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Milk & Multiple Sclerosis

Milk & Multiple Sclerosis

The dairy industry's latest claim is that Vitamin D added to milk can prevent multiple sclerosis. Dairy marketing genuises have been sending press kits to newspapers and magazines with this outlandish claim, and the August 24, 2010 issue of U.S. News and World Reports bought their prepeared copy hook, line, and stinker.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a common neurological disease, affecting approximately 300,000 Americans. Two-thirds of those diagnosed with MS are women. Women are the targets of dairy marketing. Women are told that their bones will break if they do not get the calcium from cheese and milk.

The January issue of the Journal of Immunology (2004 Jan 1;172(1):661-668) contains an important clue to understanding the etiology of MS. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany (Guggenmos,et. al.) have determined that milk proteins produce a reaction in the myelin sheath of nerve fibers that can result in MS.

Most researchers believe that MS is an auto immune disease. Auto means "self." The body's reaction to a foreign protein is to destroy that antigen-like invader with an antibody. The antibody then turn upon one's own cells. That is an auto-immune response. In the case of MS, the body's response is to attack the outer membrane-protecting nerve cells, or the myelin sheath.

Symptoms of MS include tingling or numbness of the limbs, paralyses, and vision problems. Sometimes MS patients experience slurred speech accompanied by chronic pain.

MS costs approximately $2.5 billion each year in America. MS is found in milk-drinking populations. It is interesting to note that Eskimos and Bantus (50 million living in East Africa) rarely get MS. Neither do those native North and South American Indian or Asian populations that consume no dairy products.

John McDougall, M.D., cites the British medical journal Lancet in pointing out that a diet filled with dairy products has been closely linked to the development of MS. (The Lancet 1974;2:1061)

A worldwide study published in the journal Neuroepidemiology revealed an association between eating dairy foods (cow's milk, butter, and cream) and an increased prevalence of MS. (Neuroepidemiology 1992;11:304?12.)

The April 1, 2001 issue of the Journal of Immunology included a study linking MS to milk consumption. It has long been established that early exposure to bovine proteins is a trigger for insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Researchers have made that same milk consumption connection to MS.

The July 30, 1992 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine first reported the diabetes auto immune response milk connection:

"Patients with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus produce antibodies to cow milk proteins that participate in the development of islet dysfunction... Taken as a whole, our findings suggest that an active response in patients with IDDM (to the bovine protein) is a feature of the auto immune response."

In October of 1996, The Lancet reported:

"Antibodies to bovine beta-casein are present in over a third of IDDM patients and relatively non-existent in healthy individuals."

Two months later (December 14, 1996), The Lancet revealed:

"Cow's milk proteins are unique in one respect: in industrialized countries they are the first foreign proteins entering the infant gut, since most formulations for babies are cow milk-based. The first pilot stage of our IDD prevention study found that oral exposure to dairy milk proteins in infancy resulted in both cellular and immune response...this suggests the possible importance of the gut immune system to the pathogenesis of IDD."

Michael Dosch, M.D., and his team of researchers have determined that multiple sclerosis and type I (juvenile) diabetes mellitus are far more closely linked than previously thought. Dosch attributes exposure to cow milk protein as a risk factor in the development of both diseases for people who are genetically susceptible. According to Dosch:

"We found that immunologically, type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis are almost the same - in a test tube you can barely tell the two diseases apart. We found that the autoimmunity was not specific to the organ system affected by the disease. Previously it was thought that in MS autoimmunity would develop in the central nervous system, and in diabetes it would only be found in the pancreas. We found that both tissues are targeted in each disease." (Journal of Immunology, April, 2001)

Robert Cohen

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