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Link Between Cow's Milk Consumption And Risk Of Diabetes Type 1
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jun 01, 2009
Published by CBC News
Type 1 diabetes projected to double in young European children
The number of European children under the age of five with Type 1 diabetes could double by 2020, a rapid increase that points to environmental factors, researchers say.
The study in Saturday's issue of The Lancet was based on an analysis of 29,311 cases of Type 1 diabetes in 20 European countries between 1989 and 2003.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by insulin deficiency and is treated with insulin injections. It occurs when insulin-producing cells in the pancreas that are needed to control blood sugar are destroyed.
"By 2020, the predicted number of new cases is 24,400, but this change is not shared evenly between the age groups, with incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the youngest age group expected to double in both sexes," Dr. Chris Patterson of Queen's University in Belfast, Gyula Soltesz of Pecs University in Hungary and colleagues wrote in the study.
Diagnoses were rising at a rate of 3.9 per cent per year overall, and increasing by 5.4 per cent per year among those under five.
Based on those trends, the number of cases among children under five is predicted to double, to 20,113 in 2020 from 9,955 in 2005, the researchers said.
Cases among European children under the age of 15 are predicted to rise even more, to 159,767 in 2020 from 93,584 in 2005.
Note from Ben Kim: Though there are likely several potential contributing causes of diabetes type 1, it's hard to ignore the strong connection between cow's milk consumption and risk of insulin-dependent diabetes in children.
The evidence in relevant studies suggests that some component of cow's milk in its pasteurized and homogenized form is capable of triggering an autoimmune-type reaction in children who may be genetically predisposed to developing diabetes type 1.
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint what this component is - some suggest that it's bovine serum albumin, while others feel that it could be bovine insulin.
For a look at peer-reviewed scientific studies that highlight the link between cow's milk consumption and incidence of diabetes type 1 in children, have a look at the following summaries:
Early exposure to cows' milk raises risk of diabetes in high risk children (Registration may be required to view full article.)
Clearly, ingesting cow's milk and dairy products made with cow's milk doesn't cause diabetes type 1 in everyone. As it is with almost all chronic states of dysfunction, diabetes type 1 tends to arise in children who are genetically predisposed to developing it.
And because there is enough evidence to indicate that ingesting pasteurized and homogenized dairy products can precipitate diabetes type 1 in predisposed children, my feeling is that all parents and expectant parents should be made aware of this link so that they can make informed choices as they raise their children and even during pregnancy.
For children who have diabetes type 1, I strongly recommend limiting or avoiding intake of cow's milk and products made with cow's milk, as we just don't know how much regenerative capacity each child's insulin-producing cells have. Regular intake of dairy amounts to regular autoimmune activity against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, making it near impossible for a type 1 diabetic to experience improvement and less dependency on meds.
As it is with just about every other autoimmune-related illness that we know of, the greatest improvement from avoiding dairy and other known causes of the illness at hand can be expected early on in the life of the disease; the longer one allows diabetes type 1 or any other autoimmune illness to exist, the more difficult it becomes to experience improvement.
This can be a difficult subject to discuss, especially with parents who have a child with diabetes type 1. This discussion isn't meant to assign blame or generate feelings of guilt. We must give all parents as much relevant information as possible to empower the best decisions for their families from this day forward.
Limiting or avoiding cow's milk and foods derived from cow's milk means striving to stay away from milk, cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream, ice cream, whipped cream, and all junk foods like milk chocolate, potato chips, and cookies that contain dairy.
Though raw organic dairy and foods made with raw organic dairy are better choices than factory-farmed dairy, my experience has been that it's best to avoid all types of dairy, especially in cases where there is existing autoimmune illness.
So what do you eat and feed your children if you take away dairy? Lots of green vegetables and other fresh plant foods like beans, lentils, peas, and whole grains. For more specific ideas, here's a look at what we've been feeding our two boys these days :
Ripe avocados, mangoes, watermelon, and banana
Rice, some type of leafy green vegetable (usually Bok choy), small amount of naturally raised chicken or turkey meat, soup made with vegetable or organic chicken broth, all chopped up into easy-to-eat pieces and mixed together in one bowl like a stew
Same as lunch
Smoothies, dried mango, goji berries, mulberries, oatmeal squares, anything else that I've been experimenting with for our recipes archive
Please consider sharing this post with expectant parents and parents of young children. Limiting or avoiding dairy doesn't guarantee immunity against type 1 diabetes and other chronic diseases, but based on everything that I've read on this topic and experienced with my own body and with clients over the years, I feel that it's more than a worthwhile investment in our health.
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