Food & Acne: Does Milk Really Cause Acne?

shutterstock_4157092Rejoice! The days of treating chocolate and fast-food like they could be instant acne triggers are over. Milk, on the other hand, you still want to watch out for.

There is a lot of speculation regarding this subject, and some bits of information regarding the correlation between acne and milk products are fiction. However, there have been recent discoveries on the effect of milk on acne, and you’ll want to be educated about the results.

Research That Supports This Claim

Studies on the effects of milk on skin have been happening for over 50 years now, and while many of them are inconclusive, much has been discovered over the decades. For instance, it has been proven that the testosterone is directly related to the development of acne. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Testosterone creates a chemical through a series of complicated chain reactions called di-hydrotestosterone, or, “DHT.”
  • DHT stimulates glands that secrete the oils that lead to acne.

While this may not say anything exclusively about milk, DHT occurs naturally in milk, and many farmers even add more hormones as preservatives. Though not proven, it is possible that people consume milk with enough hormones to stimulate your oil glands and wreck your skin.

Dairy & Your Skin

But cheese! Ice cream! Cream cheese! Is it all dairy products that may cause acne, or just plain milk? The world wants to know.

Well, one study, published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, took a close look at the diets of several different teenage boys. The boys who drank the most milk also tended to have the worst acne, while the ones who didn’t drink much milk at all had much fewer breakouts. Another 2005 article reported that most women who consumed two or more servings of skim milk every day were 22% more likely to suffer from severe acne those who consumed only one glass of skim milk a day.

Interestingly enough, skim milk actually turned out to cause more breakouts than whole milk or vitamin D supplements, which means that we can rule out fat content and Vitamin D as acne-offenders. Additionally, since skim milk is proven to have more hormones than fattier milks, it appears that hormones, specifically the DHT hormone, may be the culprit.

The Bottom Line

Nothing is 100% conclusive, but studies have shown that the hormones in milk may, in some cases, cause acne to develop. Despite some of these findings, it’s important to note that each of these studies had their limitations, and experts don’t necessarily believe that dairy consumption causes a role in acne.

Milk is an important source of calcium and vitamin D, so always be sure to check with your doctor before starting to incorporate any dietary changes. As always, the key is to remain as happy and healthy as you can, and make sure you take care of that precious skin of yours!


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