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Map of Lactose Intolerance

POSTED IN: Data Analytics & Visualization Blog

I was reading a Wired article on Cheese, and came across the paragraph below on Lactose Intolerance; (a terrible curse for us cheese lovers)  

Got me wondering what a map of the world would look like if you plotted it - and how it might stand up against the northern europe hypothesis.   After a quick google, found the great visualization below...

Why are some people lactose intolerant, and others not?


"Affecting roughly 65 percent of the world’s population, “lactose intolerance” is the inability to break down and therefore digest the lactose molecule... the ability to digest lactose appears to involve evolutionary and demographic factors along with genetic, physiological, and social aspects. Lactase persistence apparently arose as a result of a mutation of a particular gene some 7,000 to 10,000 years ago within dairy farmers in Central Europe. Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphate, and milk serves as a good source for both in the higher latitudes of Eurasia where the production of vitamin D in the skin is hampered by lower levels of sunlight.

Almost everyone in northwestern Europe is “lactase persistent”, but the number decreases as one goes south and east. Milk fat residues in pots found in Libya indicate processing of cow’s milk there between 5200 and 3800 BC, supporting a theory that lactase-persistent people and their cattle moved from Europe into Africa during that period. As a result, some African and Middle Eastern populations can digest milk. Most Eastern and Southern Africans cannot, and many in Asia and Australia are also unable to do so. ."


Sources: Nature.Com  > http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/7.11661.1375182095!/image/lactase-hotspots2.jpg and http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/infographic-day-where-people-can-digest-milk 


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About the Author

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Hi! I like to play with data, analytics and hack around with robots and gadgets in my garage. Lately I've been learning about machine learning.

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Description is...<br/>Data Analytics & Visualization Blog - Generating insights from Data since 2013

Created: July 25, 2014


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