Monday, May 23, 2011

USA Today Article Insults Those With Lactose Intolerance

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Painted dairy cows by Flickr user susieblackmon
     Recently my mom e-mailed an article to me out of USA Today that really puzzled me. I will link you here so that you may have the pleasure of reading it, as well.

Beyond the title, “Lactose intolerance may sometimes be in the head, not the gut”, which itself is abrasive to those with lactose intolerance issues, I think the article is slanted against women. I am far from a feminist, but I think it unfairly categorizes women into discriminative, unstable, and overly emotional stereotypes with the use of a “questionnaire about somatization, anxiety and depression”. The USA Today article then uses a short paragraph to explain what somatoform disorder is, stating that,
“Those with somatoform disorder often report multiple problems in different areas of the body, such as faintness or weakness of a body part, Basilisco said, but no physical cause can be found.”
They conveniently fail to mention that the other part that makes up somatoform disorder is deliberately exaggerating symptoms for secondary motives, pain in multiple parts of the body with no apparent reason, and/or sexual dysfunctions of any kind.

Secondly, the results of the research were not given in plain English. While the article states that “patients with altered somatization are four times more likely to report lactose intolerance”, it does not state how many of the patients exhibited altered somatization. The researcher stated that 33% (about 24) of the 72 females and 29% (about 5) of the 25 males that made up the study were found to actually have lactose intolerance or malabsorption issues. With current lactose intolerance rates around 60 – 80% of the world's population, the numbers of occurrence in this study were comparably small. 

Lactose Intolerance rates around the world.

Lastly, and the biggest slap in the face, by far, was how the article was ended: 
“Patients can then focus on the real root of the problem and get back to eating dairy, she added.That's important because not eating dairy products raises the risk of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis, the researchers noted.”
Not only does this falsely state that living without dairy raises your risks of calcium deficiency and related disorders, but it's an unbelievable insult to those of us who suffered silently for years without seeking a doctor's help because of the scorn we knew our myriad of symptoms would draw. 

Those of us living life without dairy due to a damaged gut from Celiac, a vegan lifestyle, or from lactose intolerance will all tell you that calcium is everywhere. Oatmeal, spinach, soy milk, tofu, salmon, molasses, and many others. While the bio-availability of these foods may not be as great as a glass of cow milk, the point is that it is more than possible to get the daily required amount of calcium while living a dairy free lifestyle.

- Patricia

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