These words may be overhead in markets in the US as A2 milk finds its way into dairy cases across the country. Researchers from New Zealand claim that A2 milk is far less problematic to a person's health than A1 milk. According to their research, A1 milk is more likely to be a factor in heart disease and Type 1 diabetes. Spearheading the research was New Zealand scientist Dr. Corran (Corrie) McLachlan, who said that the protein casein found in the milk is the culprit.
But according to McLachlan, there are four varieties of casein found in milk. The one called beta-casein A2 is safe while the others, especially beta-casein A1, are linked to heart disease.
Finding the difference between beta casein A1 and A2 is not an especially difficult task. Jersey cows are mostly A2 while Frisian-Holstein cows are 80% A1. Currently all milk sold in the United States is A1.
A2 Invades U.S.
Two setbacks to the A2 Corporation occurred in August 2003 when MacLachlan, 59, died of cancer only a few weeks after A2 Corporation co-founder Howard Paterson succumbed to a sudden heart attack at age 50. Paterson was the founder of the world's largest dairy and deer farm corporations. He also owned New Zealand's largest poultry farm and was heavily involved in Blis Technologies, a biotech company. At the time of his death Paterson was planning to develop a wine industry on New Zealand's south island. A few years earlier Paterson told the press he no longer drank milk because he felt it wasn't good for him.
McLachlan had spent five years researching A1 beta-casein protein to theorize that it is linked not only to heart disease, but also to Type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.
According to McLachlan, "There are three types of casein in cow's milk, called alpha, beta, and kappa. Each type comes in certain variants, depending on the genetics of the cow that produced it. For example, more than 70% of Guernsey cows produce the A2 variety of beta casein in their milk, where 70% of Red Danish Dairy cattle produce the A1 variety of beta casein." The researcher also pointed out that one cow could produce both A1 and A2 because it could receive different genes from the mother and father. Black and white Friesian cows, very common in dairy herds in many countries, have this combination of the two genes.
Literature from the A2 Corporation presents the distinction between A1 and A2 beta caseins. Both caseins are composed of a series of amino acids that are linked together. Beta casein A2 has the amino acid proline in the 67th position in its sequence of amino acids. In A1 the 67th position becomes histidine, creating a different type of beta casein. When beta casein A1 is digested, the amino acid chain is cut right before histidine at postition 67, releasing a fragment of seven amino acids called beta casomorphin 7 (BCM-7).
According to McLachlan, BCM-7 in A1 beta casein has been shown to influence platelet aggregation and LDL oxidation, both factors in heart disease. Rats injected with BCM-7 have exhibited symptoms characteristic of schizophenia. BCM-7 has definitive opiate-like properties.
Casomorphins Are Addictive
"A cup of cow's milk contains about six grams of casein," writes Barnard. "Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese. A one-ounce slice of cheese holds about 5 grams of casein, and each of those grams holds millions of individual casein molecules."
Barnard says that when someone drinks milk or eats cheese, stomach acid and bacteria cut the casein's molecule chains into casomorphins of different lengths. "One of them, a short string made up of just five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine." In the book he makes no distinction between types of casein.
Barnard told VIP, "The problem with milk is not simply its casein--that's the part that produces the casomorphin opiates. The nutrient" package" in milk--loads of sugar (lactose), animal protein, and fat--triggers the production of IGF-I in the body, and that may be the reason it is linked to certain forms of cancer."
Just Pluck the Cow's Tail
A2 milk faces strong opposition in New Zealand by Fonterra, one of the world's largest dairy corporations that controls 95% of that country's milk supply. Fonterra's milk is A1. Fonterra is fighting A2 Corporation's efforts to have A1 milk carry a label`disclosing the beverage's links to heart disease, diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.
Currently A2 milk is being sold in Australia and New Zealand at prices approximately 15% more or $.06 to $.09 a liter more than A1 milk. A2 milk is being advertised as "risk free" and a "safe" alternative to A1 milk. Sales of A2 milk have been brisk in both countries. Fairbrae Milk in Australia reports, "The response has been huge" for its Jersey Gold A2 Milk. Klondyke Dairy Just A2 Milk is selling well in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Dairy Board has two patents related to A1 protein and diabetes. The patents were the result of research by Professor Bob Elliot of the Auckland Medical School who noticed that non-milk-consuming countries had a lower incidence of Type 1 diabetes. Surprisingly, he found that Iceland, heavily into consumption of dairy products, had a low number of cases of diabetes and heart disease. Milk in Iceland came from an ancient Norske breed of cow that was not A1.
Further research by Elliot led to the discovery of beta casomorphin 7 (BCM-7) that was implicated in heart disease and Type 1 diabetes. In 1994 the New Zealand Dairy Board filed a patent application announcing the link between A1 beta casein and Type 1 diabetes. A second patent application was filed in 1999. It stated:
"It is known that the A1 variant of beta casein induces Type 1 diabetes immune response. However, it is believed on the basis of what is known in general about immune responses that the A1 variant may induce other immune responses of importance to the health of individuals. The present invention is not limited to determining the susceptibility of individuals to Type 1 diabetes but includes diagnosis of any other immune condition which may be caused by presence of the active peptide (beta casomorphin 7)."
Because of McLachlan's research, A2 Corporation was able to obtain a patent showing the linking of A1 milk to heart disease. In December 2000 A2 corporation paid over 8.5 million dollars for a half-share in a patent held jointly with the New Zealand Dairy Board covering milk protein research and the link to Type 1 diabetes.
A2 Corporation funded a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in 2003 supporting the link between A1 milk and both heart disease and diabetes. The study reported a higher incidence of these diseases in Sweden, the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and New Zealand, countries that consume large quantities of A1 milk. On the other hand, Japan and France, consumers of A2 milk, have a low incidence of heart disease.
VIP Reacts to A2
We are skeptical about A2 milk because it has become a commercial venture with research paid for by the organization promoting it. Is this a marketing ploy by a large corporation or is A2 milk a genuine disease-preventive beverage? Most of the reported research involves statistical information that has been used to prove the value of A2 milk. The same countries that show a high consumption of milk also have a significantly high intake of meat products. Perhaps, the meat products may also be implicated in heart disease and Type 1 diabetes.
VIP would like to see more research before the public embraces A2 milk. We have a feeling that A1 vs. A2 is not the real issue. The real issue may be all casein present in all dairy products.