Milk May Cause Acne?


acne-causes-milk.jpgPhoto by:


We all get them. They are annoying, ugly and sometimes even painful! Yes, I am talking about pimples. Acne, as defined by the Mayo Clinic "is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells". This causes pimples, zits, whatever you call them. It is quite common around young people going through puberty but is not limited to just them. People of all ages deal with acne sometimes short term and sometime long term. This leads to self-esteem issues due to the way acne affects your skin when it arises or when it leaves you scarred.

I would like to say I am one of the lucky few who do not have acne. I can't recall last time I had an actual zit or blackhead...that I can see anyway. But am I truly acne free or is it just that I am keeping away from the things that may cause acne?

There is no known cause for acne, but it has been said that it is most common during puberty due to the high levels of estrogen and testosterone teenagers produce during that time. Some say bacteria on your face may cause acne, while others believe it is due to stress. However, some even go as far as saying that milk may cause acne.

The argument that milk is linked to acne is based on the fact that milk contains sebum which clog pores and lead to breakouts. In a recent interview, Dr. William F. Danby, Adjunct Assistant Professor Dermatology at Dartmouth Medical School, explained how "milk raises insulin levels and insulin-like growth hormone-1 (IGF-1) levels. These two polypeptide hormones work together to open the male hormone receptors--also known as androgen receptors--that turn on acne."

The American Academy of Dermatology summarized two studies done on milk and acne. Their summary of the studies done concluded that:

·         In 2005, a retrospective study was conducted in which 47,355 adult women were asked to recall their high school diet and if they ever had "physician-diagnosed severe acne." The study found that acne was positively associated with the reported quantity of milk ingested -- particularly skim milk.


·         In 2006, a study examined the self-reported food consumption as well as the frequency and amount of pimples experienced by 6,094 girls aged 9 to 15 over three years. The study found positive associations between the prevalence of acne and the intake of total milk, whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk.

I am not entirely sure that these two studies can prove a valid point because neither are experimental and they both rely on information provided by the subjects. The fault in that could be that they lied or could not remember things.

However, members of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health of New York University, Jennifer Burris and Kathleen Woolf, along with William Rietkerk of the Department of Dermatology for New York Medical College, "concluded that a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also note that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it."

Like Andrew has taught us this year, there are third variables that could always play into account when trying to find the cause of something. I think that third variables have lots to do with the reasons why people have acne. No one reason will fit everyone- women may be more likely to have dirtier faces if they don't wash their makeup off, men don't do that. Maybe men are more likely to have acne because of their testosterone levels, but what about the women taking the same hormones for whatever medical or physical reasons? What about the diet of individuals? Milk is bigger in some cultures than others. Maybe cows in certain regions of the world don't have as many hormones in them that transmit to milk we drink.

So in my case, could it be that maybe because I don't drink milk I don't get pimples? What about my stress level, especially during times like these when I am grinding to pass all my classes? Or maybe it's just family genes that we all have clear skin. This is a factor I had never heard about, but now that I think about my diet, I think it could be a possibility behind my skin, but I do not think it is my personal definite answer.  

Those are lots of things that could play into the reason why people have acne or don't have acne. If you think about your own skin and your lifestyle, could milk be the reason for your outbreaks?



I always knew diet (pizza and other greasy foods) played a huge factor in acne, but I never could have guessed milk could be a culprit! However, it makes sense. An intake of excess simple sugars can cause acne. "The liver converts the sugars into lipid, which then shuts down a gene called SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), thus reducing the amount of SHBG protein circulating in the blood. SHBG protein controls the amount of testosterone and estrogen in the body: when there is reduced SHBG protein in the blood, more testosterone and estrogen will be released throughout the body, thus increasing the occurrence and development of acne."

One of my closest friends is prone to really bad acne. Her dermatologist recommended she go on a completely lactose-free diet. Turns out, when she eliminated all of the dairy, her skin cleared up almost completely. Sometimes I wonder if what we consume can be a larger culprit in causing acne than hormones. Here's an article on the less common causes of acne:

I never knew that there was a possible connection between acne and milk and find it to be startling news. While it is perfectly understandable for someone to attempt to remove the cause from their life people must be careful if they are going to remove all dairy from their diet especially if they are of a younger age. Calcium deficiency can cause some huge problems in adolescents that people would have to be aware of. This Website talks about this problem.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Preventing allergies before they start
Allergies affect so many Americans, and some people suffer from so many different allergies that it limits the activities…
Sea Turtles in Danger!
Being one of the oldest species living in the world today, sea turtles need to be protected. These animals help…
Have scientists found relief for autism patients?
Chances are, you know someone who has been diagnosed with autism. It has impacted so many lives all over the…

Old Contributions