News ID: 112722
Published: 0403 GMT February 28, 2015

Do benefits of raw milk outweigh risks?

Do benefits of raw milk outweigh risks?

Raw milk is milk that has not undergone pasteurization, the bacteria-killing heat treatment designed to reduce human pathogens and increase shelf life. Unpasteurized milk can contain potentially harmful and deadly pathogens, including listeria, salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7 and campylobacter.

Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems have the highest risk of contracting illness from these pathogens. According to the Centers for Disease Control, outbreaks associated with these pathogens are 2.2 times higher in states where raw milk sales are legal, Medical Xpress said.

So why do people go so crazy for raw milk? They do so because of the supposed health benefits, which include improved immunity, allergy relief and gastrointestinal health.

One claim is that raw milk can improve digestive health and does not cause lactose intolerance. Yet research has failed to support the notion that there are levels of probiotics in raw milk to produce digestive benefits. Additionally, milk, whether raw or pasteurized, does not contain lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, or levels of lactobacilli bacteria (like those in yogurt) that are able to produce that effect.

There is also no evidence to support the claim that raw milk can cure or treat allergies and asthma. The study that is often used to support this claim — the PARSIFAL study — focused on milk obtained directly from farms, but some of that milk was boiled. Additionally, pasteurization has little impact on the milk's protein structure, so people with milk allergies are unlikely to tolerate milk, whether it's raw or pasteurized.

Resource: Medical Xpress
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