Survey to determine why people drink raw milk

Gerard E. Mullin, Stephen M. Belkoff, Rachel Box

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Fragility fractures associated with osteoporosis extract a large financial and personal toll on society. Pharmaceutical or dietary calcium intake is needed to increase bone mineral density to prevent fragility fractures. Although dairy products are a good source of calcium, patients who are unable to digest lactose tend to avoid them and are put at a greater risk for fracture thanthe general population. Anecdotal reports suggest that lactose maldigesters, when consuming raw milk, have a dramatic reduction in symptoms relative to pasteurized milk. The mechanism of the reportedreduction in symptoms, if true, is unknown. The purpose of the current study was to survey raw milk drinkers to ascertain their healthrelated motivations for consuming raw milk, especially as they relate to lactose maldigestion. Methods: An online survey regarding raw milk was completed by 153 of 1527 members of a raw milk-buying community. Results: The primary reason the respondents cited for drinking raw milk was that they believed it was more healthful; 30% reported some gastrointestinal discomfort when drinking pasteurized milk, yet almost all (99%) reported consuming raw milk without discomfort. Despite the reports of gastrointestinal discomfort, only 5% of respondents had been diagnosed as lactose intolerant by a medical professional, and only 1% had been diagnosed as lactose intolerant via the gold-standard hydrogen breath test. Conclusions: The primary motivation for drinking raw milk is its perceived health value, not its digestibility. Although raw milk appears to be more easily digested than pasteurized milk in our survey sample, the mechanism of digestibility remains unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalGlobal Advances In Health and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Lactase
  • Lactose
  • Maldigestion
  • Raw milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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