• Question: Does Milk Make You Ill?

    Asked by saracallaway to James P, James V, Nuala on 5 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: James Verdon

      James Verdon answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      Hi saracallaway,

      For most people, consuming dairy products is not a problem. However, some people lack the enzyme necessary to digest the sugars in milk. This is called lactose intolerance. For these people, if they consume a lot of milk, cheese or yogurt it can lead to bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

      Most mammals can only digest milk when they are young – as they live on milk from their mothers. Once they become adults, they lose the ability to digest milk. Humans have made an adaptation in being able to digest milk as adults, and so are one of the few animals that retain this ability – except for the people who are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is, I think, more common for people of SE Asian origins. I think it is a genetic condition that is passed down (although I’m not completely sure about that).

    • Photo: James Pope

      James Pope answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      Hi saracallaway,

      All I’d add is that I think James V is correct when he says that lactose intolerance is genetic, but it maybe what is called a recessive gene, so you need both parents to carry the gene for you to have it. Not entirely sure though!

    • Photo: Nuala Carson

      Nuala Carson answered on 5 Jul 2012:

      Hey saracallaway,

      Milk doesnt make you sick, unless you either drink lots of it really fast, when your stomach rejects the liquid and you throw it up again, or more seriously if you are lactose intolerant. Its not a life threatening illness, but causes stomach cramps, discomfort, diarrhea etc (like lenard from the big bang theory!)