Mixed message about raw milk and asthma


On the one hand, children who drink raw milk rather than pasteurized have a reduced chance of developing asthma and other allergies, and for kids with a genetic predisposition toward that disease, this is very welcome news. On the other hand, you're risking E. coli and other fun diseases when you drink the raw product. What to do?

The research coming from a European study is not definitive proof that there is a causal link between pasteurized milk and asthma, but it is an interesting data point. Researchers believe certain milk proteins that are destroyed by heat during pasteurization could actually be helpful in preventing the development of the lung disease.

"The consumption of raw milk is a double-edged sword," said Georg Loss, with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel who worked on the study. "On the one side it is protective for the development of asthma and allergies but on the other side it nay imply serious health risks due to harmful microorganisms."

Last year raw milk was linked to a 2008 outbreak of E. coli in Connecticut that brought four people to the hospital with the life threatening illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resubmitted its warning against raw milk after the asthma findings were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"From the CDC's perspective, raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can cause severe illness and even death," Hannah Gould of the CDC said. "While it is possible to get foodborne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all."

Loss acknowledged the contradiction but hopes for a future solution. "Pasteurization remains an effective tool to inactivate harmful microorganisms but may simultaneously destroy whey proteins. The results may give rise to technological developments aiming to destroy harmful microorganisms but preserving beneficial components of milk. The ultimate aim is to use a safe and protective milk for prevention of asthma."

Source: Reuters


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