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QJM. 2005 Dec;98(12):857-63.

Molecularly-defined lactose malabsorption, milk consumption and anthropometric differences in adult males.

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Division of Endocrinology and Nuclear Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University Hospital, Auenbruggerplatz 15, A-8036 Graz, Austria.



Lactose malabsorption (LM) may be associated with reduced skeletal calcium content. Diagnosis to date has been based on indirect methods, with a high false-negative rate. Identification of the LCT polymorphism led to development of a PCR-based test.


To evaluate the PCR-based test compared to a combination the hydrogen breath test and the lactose tolerance test, and investigate anthropometrical differences, changes in bone mineral density and oral calcium intake according to LCT polymorphism and milk-drinking habits.


All participants (n = 278) underwent clinical examination, with measurement of height, weight and bone density (DXA), and were genotyped for LCT polymorphism (LCT CC or LCT TT: CC is associated with LM). A subgroup (n = 51) had a hydrogen breath test and a lactose tolerance test, in addition to genotyping.


Detection of LM by LCT polymorphism was highly significant (p = 0.001). The correlation between LCT genotype and self-reported milk-intolerance or dislike of milk with was slight, but the correlation with functional tests was highly significant. Non-milk-drinkers were lighter (-5 kg) and significantly shorter (-4 cm) than milk-drinkers (p = 0.07 and 0.04, respectively). Total calcium consumption was lower among non-milk-drinkers by about 18% (p = 0.03).


Genotyping is an economic, quick and convenient method for diagnosing lactose malabsorption, with results comparable to existing tests. Sufficient calcium consumption may be relevant to body growth, as milk-drinkers were taller. Negative calcium bone balance may be prevented when provision is made for adequate calcium intake.

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