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Multiple Sclerosis and Dairy

I really dislike Novartis commercials. They never admit when one of their experimental trials goes wrong. They then toot their own horn when one of their drugs helps people without revealing that half of the experimental human subjects are given placebos and in good faith, volunteer to participate in a study which cannot possibly help them.

When somebody dies in a Novartis drug trial, the information is hushed up.

Not this time.

On Saturday (January 21, 2012), Notmilk learned that a new experimental Novartis drug used to treat people with multiple sclerosis has killed 11 people. The drug is named Gilenya.

With illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, pharmaceutical companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars seeking approval for something which only relieves symptoms.

How many people are aware of the dairy consumption link? Multiple sclerosis affects approximately 300,000 Americans. Two-thirds of those diagnosed with MS are women. Most researchers believe that MS is an autoimmune disease. Auto means "self."

It is interesting to note that Eskimos and Bantus (50 million individuals living in East Africa) rarely get MS. Neither do those native North and South American Indian or Asian populations that consume no cow's milk or dairy products.

The British medical journal Lancet reported that dairy-rich diets filled have been closely linked to the development of MS. (The Lancet 1974;2:1061)

A 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;11:30412.)

MS researcher, Luther Lindner, M.D., a pathologist at Texas A & M University College of Medicine, wrote:

"It might be prudent to limit the intake of milk and milk products."

The body's reaction to a foreign protein is to destroy that antigen-like invader with an antibody. For those individuals possessing a genetic pre-disposition to such an event, the antibody then turns 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, paralysis, and vision problems. Sometimes MS patients experience slurred speech accompanied by chronic pain.

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 autoimmune 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."

The April 1, 2001 issue of the Journal of Immunology contained a study linking MS to milk consumption.

Michael Dosch, M.D., and his team of researchers 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."

Women are targeted by dairy industry scare tactics that misinform about osteoporosis. Two-thirds of MS victims are women. As milk and cheese consumption increase along population lines, so too do an epidemic number of MS cases. The numbers add up. The clues add up. The science supports epidemiological studies. Got MS? The milk connection has been established. That connection was confirmed by researchers in the March, 2011 issue of the journal Neurology who concluded after reviewing data from the Harvard Nurse Study (over 80,000 participants) that women who drink whole cow's milk experience an "increased risk for multiple sclerosis".

Robert Cohen

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