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Do Dairy Products Cause Acne?

Updated on June 4, 2009

 I recently read an interview with an aesthetician who cited nutritional causes of skin disorders, and focused briefly on acne. She said chocolate doesn't matter, but dairy does. I thought to myself--is that true? I had never heard about a connection between dairy and acne, and decided to research further. There is a paucity of studies about the nutritional causes of acne. We've all heard that greasy foods cause it, and perhaps have also read that no, greasy foods don't matter. We've read advice to avoid chocolate, but have also been told that chocolate has no bearing on the matter. So when it comes specifically to dairy, what is the evidence that dairy inflames acne, and if I struggle with it, should I cut dairy out of my diet?

Scientific Studies

Milk protein consumption increases the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) serum levels, and this may affect acne severity. This is because acne is caused by the action of dihydrotestosterone, derived from endogenous and exogenous precursors, likely acting synergistically with insulin-like growth factor-1.

What does this mean? Essentially the cow is producing hormones because of its pregnancy, and these hormones enter the milk. When we consume the milk, we consume these hormones. In fact, as the level of insulin-like growth factor-1 in the blood increases in pubescent and young adult blood, so does the severity of the acne. Not to mention the additional recombinant growth hormone that is often given to cows in the United States to increase milk production, and then is consumed by the milk drinker. This additional hormone may futher inflame acne severity.


More research needs to be done on the connections between milk, diet in general, and acne. However, there is evidence that consumption of milk may increase the severity of acne. It is important to consume a healthy diet, so if milk consumption is reduced, nutritional replacements such as calcium supplements should be taken. However, those who suffer from acne may try reducing their dairy intake for several weeks to see if this makes a difference in the severity of their acne.


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    • profile image

      johanne leblanc 5 years ago

      The data WE DO HAVE is Monsanto and many many other companies who Geneticaly modify our food and animals.... so take what works for you.

    • profile image

      leena 6 years ago

      yes i do agree

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting information. Thanks so much for sharing it.

      Love and peace


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      keiko 8 years ago

      I hope this is not true because dairy is in sooo many food products i wouldn't know what to eat..

    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 8 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi C.S. Alexis,

      Yes I had never heard of this and like to know the science behind such general claims as "avoid dairy for acne." Clearly there isn't much data, but the data there makes sense. Thanks for stopping by!

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

      Food for thought...?