Milk & Type I Diabetes

Ian Goddard (
Thu, 05 Aug 1999 00:55:59 -0400

Research continues to indicate a link between Type I diabetes and bovine-milk consumption in infancy. Here's a recent report from Science News (1999;155(26):404-5):

Milk-Diabetes link? Yes:

Milk-Diabetes link? Yes:

Milk-Diabetes link? Yes:

Milk-Diabetes link? No:

It should be noted that that study, which throws cold water on the Type-I/milk connection, was sponsored by the National Fluid Milk Processors. Here are a couple relevant studies I found via Medline:

TITLE: Cow milk feeding induces antibodies to insulin in children--a link between cow milk and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus?
AUTHORS: Vaarala O; Paronen J; Otonkoski T; Akerblom HK AUTHOR AFFILIATION: Department of Biochemistry, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. SOURCE: Scand J Immunol 1998 Feb;47(2):131-5 CITATION IDS: PMID: 9496688 UI: 98156374

ABSTRACT: Exposure to cow milk (CM)-based formulas in early infancy has been associated with an increased risk of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), but studies on the possible pathogenic mechanism(s) linking CM and IDDM are contradicting. We hypothesized that if CM formulas contained bovine insulin (BI), exposure to them could lead to immunization against insulin, which is the only known beta-cell- specific autoantigen in IDDM. We measured immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies by enzyme immunoassay
(EIA) to BI and human insulin (HI) in children who received,
during the first 9 months of life, either a formula containing whole CM proteins or a formula containing hydrolyzed casein
(HC) peptides. BI was detectable by radioimmunoassay (RIA) and
immunoblotting in the CM-based formula. At 6 months of age the children who received CM formula had higher levels of IgG antibodies to BI than children who received either HC formula or children who were exclusively breast-fed (median levels 0.480 versus 0.185, P = 0.04; and 0.480 versus 0.160, P = 0.04; respectively). Also, at 9 months of age, children in the CM group differed from the HC group (0.403 versus 0.230; P = 0.02). Antibodies to BI and HI showed a positive correlation and cross-reacted in inhibition studies. The high incidence of insulin- binding antibodies in young children with IDDM may be explained by oral immunization to BI present in CM. Exposure to BI, which differs from HI only by three amino acids, may break the tolerance to insulin.

TITLE: Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and cow milk: casein variant consumption.
AUTHORS: Elliott RB; Harris DP; Hill JP; Bibby NJ; Wasmuth HE AUTHOR AFFILIATION: Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, Auckland, New Zealand.
SOURCE: Diabetologia 1999 Mar;42(3):292-6 CITATION IDS: PMID: 10096780 UI: 99194444

ABSTRACT: Previously published Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus incidence in 0 to 14-year-old children from 10 countries or areas was compared with the national annual cow milk protein consumption. Countries which were selected for study had appropriate milk protein polymorphism studies, herd breed composition information and low dairy imports from other countries. Total protein consumption did not correlate with diabetes incidence (r = +0.402), but consumption of the beta-casein A1 variant did (r = +0.726). Even more pronounced was the relationbetween beta-casein
(A1+B) consumption and diabetes (r = +0.982). These latter
two cow caseins yield a bioactive peptide beta- casomorphin-7 after in vitro digestion with intestinal enzymes whereas the common A2 variant or the corresponding human or goat caseins do not. beta-casomorphin-7 has opioid properties including immunosuppression, which could account for the specificity of the relation between the consumption of some but not all beta-casein variants and diabetes incidence.

Cow's milk: New link to diabetes?

Some people with insulin-dependent diabetes mount an immune response to the protein beta casein, which makes up 35 percent of the total protein in cow's milk.