Genetic interpretation of racial/ethnic differences in lactose absorption and tolerance: A review

R. C. Johnson, R. E. Cole, Frank Martin Ahern

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

A review of the literature provides evidence indicating that lactose malabsorption and lactose intolerance are different though correlated phenotypes, with a high proportion of malabsorbers being tolerant and a relatively small proportion of absorbers being intolerant. Support for the belief that either absorption or tolerance is controlled by a single gene pair is not strong, either when racial/ethnic differences in absorption/tolerance are examined or when studies of racially mixed populations have been conducted. Evidence does support the belief that absorption is controlled by a single gene pair when families of northern European ancestry are examined. Tolerance, but probably not absorption, appears to be influenced by dietary practices. We suggested that social policy involving the use of milk and other dairy products in food supplement programs directed at non-white populatons should be guided by data concerning tolerance, not absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Biology
Volume53
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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