The devil in the milk molecule
The Press Saturday, 15 September 2007
Has a Lincoln University researcher spilt the milk industry's secret about the potential harm in its product or is it more crank science? JOHN McCRONE investigates the latest fuss over A1 and A2 milk.
Is there a health risk in drinking milk? Has there been a naughty cover-up of the facts by Fonterra and others?
These, bluntly, are the questions raised in the explosive new book by Lincoln University agribusiness professor Keith Woodford, who this week reopened a long-festering debate within the New Zealand dairy industry.
The theory, which has been around a decade, seems incredible to most people: that our brains and immune systems can literally be poisoned by poorly digested milk.
Only a certain genetic strain of milk is to blame – the A1 type. However, that is also our most common milk.
The science, put as simply as possible, is that the A1 strain breaks down to release a tiny bio-active peptide fragment called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7). The other kind of milk, A2, breaks down quite harmlessly.
In people who are susceptible, which could be as many as one in five (although this is still a guess), BCM-7 may trigger a host of diseases: diabetes, heart disease, autism, schizophrenia, infant cot-death syndrome, multiple sclerosis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease – the woes of the Western world it seems.
Then there is the question of an industry cover-up. Read the rest by clicking the blog headline.