Q And A Clearinghouse
4th Quarter, 1998
Updated December 29, 1998
This page answers the
questions that arrived in the fourth quarter of 1998.
Send your questions to me, Steve Carper, at SteveCarper@CS.com.
Remember, I personally answer all questions that you send me, no
matter what. The ones that are of sufficiently general interest
get posted here, where I hope they can do the most good.
If you don't spot your question here, be sure to check my
Q and A Quick Finder Index.
Q. What mutations if any cause
lactose intolerance and what chromosome are they on?
Sorry, you have it the wrong way around. No mutations cause LI.
LI is the normal state of humanity. It is the ability to continue
to produce the enzyme lactase all one's life that is the mutation.
The gene is on chromosome 2.
Q. Are there any food companies
that manufacture foods only for lactose-intolerent people?
There are a few, notably Lactaid, which manufactures a line of
lactose-free or lactose-reduced products. However, there are
far many more companies that produce a few lactose-free products
as part of a larger line. For the most complete list of over
a hundred products in many categories, you should look at my
Product Clearinghouse section.
Q.With the new Lactaid products
do you know of any company that makes cheeses with Lactaid 100 milk.
Do you know if you CAN make cheese with Lactaid 100 milk?
To your first question: Nope, sorry. But there is lactose-free
true cheese on the market. Go to my
Lactose-Free Cheese page and read all about it.
As far making it yourself:
theoretically, you should be able to do absolutely anything with
Lactaid 100 milk that you can do with regular milk. The only
difference is that the Lactaid milk has had the lactose sugar
broken down into glucose and galactose. All the proteins should be
Try it and let me know the result.
Q. Is alactasia genetic and will
it cause me any problems if I breast-feed a child in the future?
First let me make sure that I understand the way in which you
are using that unusual term "alactasia." This is not the same
thing as lactose intolerance; it is the complete inability to
produce the lactase enzyme.
If this is the sense you are using, your first question is a
difficult one. I would have to know exactly why you are
alactasic to come up with a good answer to that question.
A few people are indeed born without any ability to digest
lactose from birth. You would certainly know if this is true
for you, since you would never have been able to have milk in
your life. This condition, known as congenital lactose intolerance,
is genetic, in that it seems to run in families. Whether it is
hereditary, that is, whether your children will necessarily have
it, is far more uncertain. I just don't know the answer.
On the other hand, there are many other defects of the intestines
that can also produce this problem, ranging from short-bowel
syndrome to other, even rarer, conditions. And there are other
diseases and problems that can eliminate your lactase (this is
known as secondary lactose intolerance iof it comes through disease
or other non-genetic causes). Few of these problems
are inheritable, but some are. I couldn't say without knowing
Your other question is easier. None of these problems, as far as
I know, should interfere with breastfeeding from your end. Whether
your baby can drink the milk will depend on whether your
condition is inherited. I have been in correspondence with
one woman whose baby has congenital lactose intolerance. She has
had some success in using lactase drops mixed in with the milk
squeezed from her breast to predigest the lactose. It is not
working well, but she is continuing to try.
If you really are using alactasia to mean ordinary lactose
intolerance, then everything becomes much easier. Your children
may also have it or may not; it will depend on who the father
is. But breastfeeding will be no problem.
Q. I may need
to soon begin taking a medicine
that contains lactose.
Would this be a problem for my son since it is dairy?
Or maybe not because breast milk already has lactose?
If your son can tolerate your breast milk, he should be able
to tolerate anything you eat containing lactose. Lactose does
not travel to breast milk in any case; it's only the milk proteins
(which are not found in pills) that you have to worry about.
And the amount of lactose in any given pill is so small that only a tiny few
exceptionally sensitive people ever react. However, a lactase
tablet will help even those.
You can also look at my page on
lactose in medicines for more info.
Q. For several
months I have been using a product bought in General Nutrition Stores
called Natural Brand Milk Digestant. Each tablet contains: Lactase
25mg, Rennet 2mg. I have found this product to be far superior to
Lactaid type Lactase pills. What is the relationship of 25mg lactase to
FCC Lactase units? Is there any
evidence why this product works better than Lactaid pills?
If I remember correctly, there are 14 FCC units per milligram,
so Milk Digestant has only 350 FCC units, or about 1/9 as much as
the average in most lactase pills. As far as I know, no
natural food-store brand of lactase has ever been used in a
formal test published in a medical journal. I am a firm believer
in the "if it works for you" school, however. I am constantly
advising people not to give up on lactase just because one
brand doesn't work. As long as you found one, enjoy!
Q. is it true that some people who suffer
from lactose intolerance
actually lose this intolerance after a period of time? I read something
where one sufferer went "lactose free" for about 14 months, and then
tried milk products again--with no symptoms or complications! Myth or
Myth, myth, myth!
There is absolutely no truth to the suggestion that LI lasts
only a short length of time -- unless it is what is called
Secondary lactose Intolerance, which is brought on by damage
to the villi due to any number of causes -- diseases, drugs,
surgery, alcoholism, and lots more. In the natural course of
things most people gradually lose their ability to manufacture
lactase and this loss is permanent over the long run (there may
be some short term fluctuation that nobody has studied). Of
course, many people don't have LI at all and just ascribe their
digestive problems to milk, in which case the deleterious
psychological effect of milk may disappear after a long absence
from it. But that's it.