Does Drinking Milk Cause Acne?
For some, the idea that milk could cause skin issues is tough to swallow. After all, milk is heavily promoted as being healthy for us as an essential source of calcium. Dairy is even listed as its own food group by The United States Department of Agriculture.
It turns out there may be some truth to the claim. There is a correlation between dairy consumption and acne that has been well documented in several scientific studies. Among the findings:
- Milk contains the hormone IGF-1, which is good for helping babies grow. In adults, however, IGF-1 may lead to acne problems, both spurring breakouts and causing inflammation.
- Dairy consumption causes a spike in insulin levels within the body, correlating to increased acne.
- Dairy has been shown to spur excess production of sebum (oil) which leads to clogged pores, creating an ideal breeding environment of acne causing acnes bacteria.
- Dairy consumption is linked to lower cellular turnover of skin cells, leading to clogged pores (and thus acne).
A 2008 study of milk consumption in teenage boys showed that subjects who drank milk experienced both an increased severity and frequency of acne breakouts, compared to subjects who did not drink milk. There are several other studies (study 1, study 2) which also support this correlation between milk and acne.
It’s also important to note that there are a number of other contributors that can lead to acne, including stress, poor hygiene and skin care, diet, exercise, genetics, hormones, pollutants, and environmental allergens.