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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603581028
Year Added to Catalog: 2008
Book Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 6 x 9
Number of Pages: 252
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Release Date: March 8, 2009
Web Product ID: 445

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Devil in the Milk

Illness, Health, and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk

by Keith Woodford

Foreword by Thomas Cowan, MD

Prologue and Introduction


This book is about the effects on human health of a tiny protein fragment called beta-casomorphin-7, or BCM7 for short.

BCM7 is unquestionably a powerful opioid and hence a narcotic. It is also an oxidant. It is formed by digestion of a particular type of milk protein produced by some cows. This milk protein is called A1 beta-casein.

The BCM7 that is released from A1 beta-casein has been implicated in many illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes and autism. And there is increasing evidence that it is associated with milk intolerance and an additional range of auto-immune diseases. Metaphorically, it is ‘the devil in the milk’.

The ‘milk devil’ story is built upon more than a hundred scientific papers published in international journals, and on documents from milkmarketing companies. It is a story that has never been brought together before.

There is strong evidence that the milk devil is produced only from the milk of cows that are of European origin, and then from only some of these cows. Asian and African breeds of cows are free of it (unless they have some hidden European ancestry). So are goats. And so (with a very minor but fascinating qualification) is human milk.

No-one can tell by looking at a cow whether or not she is a source of the milk devil. However, genetic testing is possible, and it is also possible to test the milk. Farmers can breed cows that are free of the problematic protein by using appropriately tested bulls and semen.

Anyone who buys ordinary milk at the supermarket can be sure that it will contain milk from many cows and therefore there will be lots of A1 beta-casein in it. However, the level varies between countries, and even between regions. Some countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Finland, the United States and Great Britain have milk with high levels of this protein. The milk in others, such as Iceland, France and the island of Guernsey, has much lower levels.

We don’t have to stop drinking cows’ milk to avoid this devil. But we do have to drink milk from cows that have been tested and found to be free of what is called the A1 variant (or ‘allele’) of the beta-casein gene. Milk that is free of A1 beta-casein is known as A2 milk. All milk used to be A2 milk until a natural mutation affected some European cows a long time ago.

A2 milk is available in more than 1000 Australian supermarkets and stores, although with a low market profile. It is also available in a very limited number of stores in New Zealand. In 2007 it became available for the first time in seven mid-western states of the USA. The reasons why A2 milk has had such a low market profile are themselves a major part of the story.

Throughout this book I often refer to A1 milk. This is essentially a shorthand for milk that contains some A1 beta-casein, the source of the milk devil.

The story of A1 versus A2 milk may sound stranger than fiction. Indeed, it is an amazing story. It is a story of how science works and doesn’t work. It is also a story of how the forces of big business and the so-called ‘health industry’ work, and of how wishful thinking can get in the way of truth.


Download a PDF of the Introduction and the Prologue in their entirety.


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