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International Darwin Day

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“Milk--- it does a body good: No LI(e)?”

1PM – 1:30PM ISE Lab Room 410

Melissa Melby, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

“Milk--- it does a body good: No LI(e)?” *LI = Lactose intolerance or lactase impersistence

Abstract: What insight does an evolutionary perspective offer into the phenomenon of LI? Is this a condition that should be treated to improve health and allow all people to derive the benefits of milk? Humans are the only mammals that drink the breast milk of other mammals – and to do so some of them have evolved to be able to produce the enzyme lactase into adulthood. People with lactose intolerance experience uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms after ingestion of lactose, due to a lack of lactase. What happens in public and global health when we think that lactose intolerance is abnormal? What would happen if we shifted our perspectives to think of lactase impersistence as the evolutionarily normal state?Biosketch: Melissa Melby is a biological/medical anthropologist who also happens to have LI herself. Her interest in LI turned from personal to professional when she taught a series of milk labs in Nutritional Anthropology to allow students to explore biological and cultural aspects of humans’ complicated relationship with milk. She has worked extensively in Japan.

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International Darwin Day
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