Milk Increases Type 1 Diabetes Risk
Approximately 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, including about 200,000 young people below the age of 20. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system is hyper-stimulated to create antibodies that destroy Beta cells in the pancreas that produces insulin, the hormone that transports glucose ("sugar") from the blood stream into muscle cells. Type 1 diabetes represents only 10 per cent of all cases of diabetes and is the most common chronic childhood disease. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still being researched, but scientists believe that certain genetic, environmental, and dietary factors may accelerate the onset of type 1 diabetes. Scientific evidence from numerous human and animal studies has shown a positive correlation between habitual intake of cow's milk in infancy or childhood with increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
The findings of a study published in Diabetes Care Journal revealed that individuals who were exposed very early in life to cow's milk had 1.5 times greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes. The results of another study conducted by a team of Norwegian researchers provided further evidence that cow's milk may play a significant role in the development of type 1 diabetes in children between the ages of 0-14 years. Another study led by a group of scientists from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, showed that elimination of intact cow milk proteins from the diet significantly reduced the incidence of type 1 diabetes in rats.
Though the mechanisms behind the type 1 diabetes-promoting effect of milk are yet to be fully understood, researchers believed that the high content of casein protein and bovine insulin of cow's milk may explain the link between consumption of dairy products and an elevated risk of type 1 diabetes. There are two main types of casein protein—casein A1 and A2. Casein A1 is transformed to casomorphin. Along with bovine insulin, casomorphin can trigger an autoimmune reaction that causes the body to produce antibodies against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, gradually destroying these cells, and paving way for type 1 diabetes. About 95% of the cattle all over the globe, including those found in the United States, produce milk that contains casein A1 protein.
The implications of these studies are quite straightforward. To substantially reduce their children's chances of getting type 1 diabetes, parents should exclude cow's milk and other dairy products from their children's diets. About 40,000 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the United States every year. By avoiding dairy products in the diets of babies and children, a parent can decrease their child's risks of developing type 1 diabetes.
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