Acne treatment Acne treatment

Dairy & Acne

Dairy & Acne Dairy & Acne


Acne can be a distressing skin condition ranging from mild to severe, affecting teens and adults. While hormonal and inflammatory factors contribute to acne, experts have debated the link between diet and acne. Recent data, however, demonstrate a diet-acne connection, and dairy foods may be among the culprits behind your skin woes, according to research published in July 2010 by Dr. Whitney P. Bowe and colleagues in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology." Consult your doctor before modifying your diet in an attempt to treat acne.


Although stronger evidence exists showing high glycemic diet can worsen acne, eating dairy products does appear to be associated with worsening acne; further research needs to be done to better determine the roles of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, zinc, vitamin A and dietary fiber on acne, according to Bowe's article.


Consumption of cow's milk was associated with an increased prevalence and severity in acne, with enough evidence supporting dairy's effect on the hormonal and inflammatory factors that can aggravate acne, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian and colleagues found in a study published in March 2010 in the journal "Skin Therapy Letter." Increased intake of whole and skim milk, as well as instant breakfast drinks, sherbet, cottage cheese and cream cheese, was associated with increased acne in teenage girls, Dr. Clement A. Adebamowo and colleagues reported in a study published in February 2005 in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology."

Theories and Speculation

Milk's influence on acne could be due to "the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules" in milk, Adebamowo and colleagues wrote. As of 2010, it remains unclear if hormones present in milk products, iodine in milk, or increased activity of IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth factor) due to milk consumption is why dairy may worsen acne, Bowe and colleagues note.


Acne can have many causes and influences, including diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome and dietary factors beside dairy. If you are thinking about excluding dairy from your diet to treat your acne, you might have to include other foods, or supplements, to provide you with enough calcium and vitamin D to meet your needs --- a particularly important consideration in growing adolescents.


Alternatives to dairy milk include rice and almond milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D, while good food sources of calcium include dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, sardines with bones, and salmon, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

Recommendations for daily calcium intake are 1,300 mg for people aged 9 to 18, 1,000 mg for those aged 19 to 50, and 1,200 mg for adults over 51, Bowe and colleagues remind.

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