Glass of Cow’s milk may trigger onset of Diabetes

It isn’t too hard to believe that around 9.3% of the population of the United States is afflicted with type 1 diabetes and the number is growing at the rate of more than 5000 new youth getting affected every year. This is directly proportional to the consumption of processed cow’s milk. Least did we know that a food product as basic as milk could lead to a severe metabolic disorder like diabetes. Research shows introduction of cow’s milk formula early in life is not received well by the immature immune system of the infant. A careful study of the levels of antibodies against cow’s milk protein and antibodies against islet cell of pancreas showed up positive in about 92% of children fed on cow’s milk formula earlier and longer. [1]

Cow’s milk has protein that is now known to have diabetogenic properties. Its milk proteins provide mimicry epitope relevant in autoimmunity. The immunosuppression exhibited by beta-casomorphin in beta-casein found in cow’s milk impairs tolerance to dietary antigens giving rise to islet autoimmunity. [2] The body’s immune system attacks cells called islets in the pancreas that produce insulin, mistaking them to be cow’s milk proteins, contributing in the onset of type 1 diabetes. Another mechanism seen to predispose to development of diabetes is the susceptibility of the islets to T cell mediated attack. T cells are white blood cells that play an important part in the immune system, responsible for fighting infections. However, an imbalance in the production of these T cells acts against the body itself, resulting in an attack on the healthy functional cells. Glycodelin found in human breast milk is similar to the beta-lactoglobulin present in cow’s milk. Glycodelin regulates T cell production which goes haywire under the influence of beta-lactoglobulin. The T cell bearing receptors are found to be corresponding to the adhesion molecules constitutively expressed in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas resulting in type 1 diabetes. [3] A little more awareness and knowledge for our children’s health can prevent the killer disease from affecting your little ones. Continuation of breast milk for as long as possible and introduction of alternatives like soya milk, almond milk or oats milk is a good substitution.


1. Virtanen SM, Hyppönen E, Läärä E, Vähäsalo P, et al. Cow’s milk consumption, disease-associated autoantibodies and type 1 diabetes mellitus: a follow-up study in siblings of diabetic children. Childhood Diabetes in Finland Study Group. Diabet Med. 1998 Sep;15(9):730-8. 2. Hänninen A, Nurmela R, Maksimow M, Heino J, Jalkanen S, Kurts C.Islet beta-cell-specific T cells can use different homing mechanisms to infiltrate and destroy pancreatic islets. Am J Pathol. 2007 Jan;170(1):240-50. Erratum in: Am J Pathol. 2008 Apr;172(4):1153. 3. Dahlquist G, Savilahti E, Landin-Olsson M. An increased level of antibodies to beta-lactoglobulin is a risk determinant for early-onset type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus independent of islet cell antibodies and early introduction of cow’s milk. Diabetologia. 1992 Oct;35(10):980-4. 4. Merritt RJ, Jenks BH.Safety of soy-based infant formulas containing isoflavones: the clinical evidence. J Nutr. 2004 May;134(5):1220S-1224S. Review.

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