Research Article

High intestinal lactase concentrations in adult Arbs in Saudi Arabia.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 19 July 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:135
  1. G C Cook,
  2. M T al-Torki


    The maximum rise in blood glucose after 50 g lactose by mouth was determined in 40 adult Arabs. Out of 30 Bedouin, urban Saudi, and Yemeni and 9 of mixed ancestry (usually partly African), 25 (83%) and 2 (22%) respectively showed an increase of over 1-1 mmol/1 (20 mg/100 ml). In common with most northern Europeans and Hamitic people of northern Africa, Arabs in Saudi Arabia usually have high intestinal lactase concentrations in adult life. This persistence of high levels probably originated in the Arabian peninsula. Its selective advantage may have been associated with the fluid and calorie content of camels' milk, which is important for survival in desert nomads.