European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 141–146 | Cite as

Associations between lactase persistence and the metabolic syndrome in a cross-sectional study in the Canary Islands

  • Ricardo Almon
  • Eva E. Álvarez-Leon
  • Peter Engfeldt
  • Lluís Serra-Majem
  • Anders Magnuson
  • Torbjörn K. Nilsson
Original Contribution



The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) LCT −13910 C>T, associated with genetically determined phenotypes of lactase persistence (LP) or non-persistence (LNP), was studied in relation to the metabolic syndrome (MS).

Aim of the study

The aim was to determine if milk intake and MS are associated. We applied Mendelian randomization (MR). The SNP, LCT −13910 C>T, with the genotypes LP (TT/CT) and LNP (CC), was taken as a proxy for milk consumption.


A representative sample of adults belonging to the Canary Islands Nutrition Survey (ENCA) in Spain aged 18–75 years (n = 551) was genotyped for the LCT −13910 C>T polymorphism. We used the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria to define MS.


60% of the population was LP and 40% LNP. One hundred seven LP subjects (35.0%) and 53 LNP subjects (25.6%) showed MS (χ 2 = 5.04, p = 0.025). LP subjects showed a significantly higher odds ratio (OR) for MS than LNP subjects computed for the whole population: both the crude OR (1.56; 95% CI 1.06–2.31) and adjusted OR for sex, age, daily energy intake, physical activity and educational level (1.57; 95% CI 1.02–2.43). Adjusted OR for women with LP was 1.93; 95% CI 1.06–3.52.


The T allele of the SNP might constitute a nutrigenetic factor increasing the susceptibility of LP subjects, especially women, to develop MS in the Canary Islands.


LCT −13910 C>T polymorphism Metabolic syndrome Milk Mendelian randomization Nutrigenetics 



The Spanish Canarian Health Service supported the Canary Islands Nutrition Survey (ENCA). The present work was also supported by the Örebro County Council, Sweden. We are thankful to Lewis Burgess, Ph.D., applied anthropologist in New York City, for revising the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Almon
    • 1
  • Eva E. Álvarez-Leon
    • 2
    • 3
  • Peter Engfeldt
    • 1
  • Lluís Serra-Majem
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anders Magnuson
    • 4
  • Torbjörn K. Nilsson
    • 5
  1. 1.Family Medicine Research Centre, School of Health and Medical SciencesÖrebro UniversityÖrebroSweden
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaCanary IslandsSpain
  3. 3.Service of Preventive MedicineUniversity Hospital Insular of Gran Canaria, Canarian Health ServiceCanary IslandsSpain
  4. 4.Statistical and Epidemiology UnitÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden
  5. 5.Department of Clinical ChemistryÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden

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