Milk Tolerance Gene Found

Posted in Science

The BBC reports that prior to a few thousand years ago, no European adults could digest milk. Scientists from the University College London says that a gene spread through the population allowing more than 90% of Europeans to digest milk.

Since milk intolerance is still common, the scientists believe it to be related to this "milk gene." This gene produces the lactase enzyme which breaks down the lactose in milk.

Dr Mark Thomas, from UCL, said: "The ability to drink milk is the most advantageous trait that’s evolved in Europeans in the recent past.

"Although the benefits of milk tolerance are not fully understood, they probably include the advantage of a continuous supply compared with the ‘boom and bust’ of seasonal crops, its nourishing qualities, and the fact that, unlike stream water, it’s uncontaminated with parasites, making it safer.

In Europe, this gene is not present in 5% of the Caucasian population, but in other parts of the world and for other ethnicities, this gene may not be present for the majority of the population.

It’s an interesting study into our history of animal husbandry and evolution. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in our future of gene therapy. 

Via boing boing ; Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Milk Tolerance Gene Found”

  1. Noel Hebets says:

    The benefits described of a steady nourishing supply of an uncontaminated supply of nourishment cannot be denied.

    And the resulting healthier human would probably perform better in all tasks, including warfare.

    But another benefit of the milk gene that must not be overlooked is the fact that raw milk is probably the premier probiotic, the substantial amount of immunity that resides in the intestinal flora.

    This would allow these milk drinkers to migrate and travel and better fend off disease, (while passing their diseases to others not so well-protected).



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