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QUICK CHECKUP | WHAT’S NEW ON THE HEALTH BEAT Lactose intolerance varies among ethnic groups

  • Published Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, at 9:31 p.m.

Lactose intolerance varies among ethnic groups. It is less common in people of Northern and Eastern European descent and more common in people from South America, Africa and Asia.

If a person catches a stomach virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, he may become lactose-intolerant temporarily. This is why doctors commonly recommend a milk-free diet for a few days after someone gets the “stomach flu.”

The amount of lactose in milk products varies, which is why some foods cause upset while others do not:

•  8 ounces low-fat milk: 11 grams

•  4 ounces ice cream: 6 grams

•  8 ounces yogurt: 5 grams

•  4 ounces sour cream: 4 grams

•  4 ounces cottage cheese: 3 grams

•  4 ounces whipping cream: 3 grams

•  1 ounce American cheese: 1 gram

•  1 ounce cream cheese: 1 gram

•  1 teaspoon butter: trace

Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed with a procedure called the hydrogen breath test. This test usually requires a visit to a gastroenterologist’s office, so most pediatricians and family doctors make the diagnosis by determining if a patient’s symptoms resolve when lactose is removed from the diet. This could take a week or more, because the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be intermittent and do not always occur immediately after someone ingests milk products.

Washington Post

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