March 2010 Newsletter

Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy?

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which a person can't digest lactose, which is a disaccharide found in milk and milk products. The condition is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme known as 'lactase'. Lactase is supposed to be produced by the cells lining the small intestine and break down lactose into two simple sugar called 'glucose' and 'galactose', which are then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Lactose intolerance does not involve any immune response while milk allergy latter does.  Allergy can trigger a life-threatening response while lactose intolerance does not. Milk allergy occurs commonly in the first year of life while lactose intolerance occurs mostly in adulthood.

Lactose intolerance is caused by lactase deficiency.
  1. Primary lactase deficiency begins after about the age of 2 years when the body starts to produce less lactase. However, children are less likely to experience symptoms of lactose intolerance. The condition will become severe after a person gets into his late adolescence or adulthood. 

  2.  Secondary lactase deficiency is caused by some injury to the small intestine that occurs with severe diarrheal illness, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or chemotherapy. This type of lactase deficiency can occur at any age but is more commonly encountered in infancy.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Lead to Crohn's Disease

A new study has found that Vitamin D can counter the effects of Crohn's disease.

Researchers found that Vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes an antimicrobial peptide, and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes.

Both beta defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it cannot combat invaders in the intestinal tract.

The research also provides further evidence of the biological importance of adequate levels of vitamin D in humans and other primates, even as some studies and experts suggest that more than 50 percent of the children and adults in the U.S. are deficient in "the sunshine vitamin."

"The existence and importance of this part of our immune response makes it clear that humans and other primates need to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D," said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

In simple terms, if you're vitamin D deficient, your immune system will not activate to do its job. And since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it prevents an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease.

Dating Website Matches Couples By Chronic Disease reports that is a new dating site created by Ricky Durham in 2004 in honor of his brother. The site is geared to match people with special health needs to others with similar conditions. Whether this search is for friendship or something more is entirely up to the user.

Ricky's brother Keith had Crohn's Disease. It could make meeting people for the first time awkward.
"Deciding when to tell someone you have a colostomy bag is incredibly difficult," Durham explains. "I thought if Keith had a chance to meet someone with a similar condition, there would be no need to have to disclose anything."

Prescription 4 Love is set up like most other online dating sites. Users can create their own profiles, browse through the forums, and chat with each other in an open environment without a hidden medical history. Durham's recently added instant messaging, blogging and virtual gifts to the mix.

Did You Know???
  • Basic Medicare premiums rise 15% for 12 million people in 2010.

    As reported in The New York Times, the increase--to $110.50 per month--marks the first time that premiums will be above $100. But 73% of Medicare recipients will not face higher rates, because under fedral law, their premiums cannot go up more than their increase in Social Security benefits--which will not go up at all in 2010. There is a move in Congress to block the scheduled premium increase.

  • Caviar is nutritionally powerful.

    Men's Health magazine notes that ounce for ounce, caviar contains three times as much heart-health Omega-3 fatty acid as salmon.

  • Statins may help patients survive flu.

    Ann Thomas, MD, public health physician, Oregon Public Health Division, Portland, reported that people already taking cholesterol-lowering drugs when they were hospitalized with flu were half as likely to die as those not using the medicines.

    Theory: Statins also reduce inflammation--and much of the damage from flu comes from inflammation.

  • There is now incision-free surgery for severe acid reflux.

    Surgery for severe acid reflux now can be done without any incisions, says Peter D. Stevens, MD. Surgeons can repair faulty esophageal valves--a major Luse of reflux--by inserting instruents through the mouth instead of the abdomen.

    Advantages: Patients recover faster and have fewer complications.

    The new procedure, called insoral incision-less fundoplication (TIF), works best in patients who have responded to reflux medications but want to stop using them because of side effects. After surgery, about 70% of patients no longer need medication.

  In this Issue:
Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy?
Vitamin D Deficiency May Lead to Crohn's Disease

Dating Website Matches Couples by Chronic Disease

Did You Know???

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