Can you get acne caused by dairy? It’s a good question, because what you eat every day is one of the most important lifestyle factors that affect the health of your skin. In the past few years, dairy has been a very popular topic. Some experts say that dairy is part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, there is some evidence that dairy in your diet can cause acne and irritate the skin.
Dairy can cause inflammation and isn’t a good source of nutrition for everyone. The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal says that about 68% of the world’s population has some kind of lactose intolerance. But does this mean you should give up your morning latte in favor of one of the best milk alternatives to get that glow you’re after? As it turns out, maybe is the answer. Continue reading to learn more.
Is there a connection between dairy consumption and acne?
Few studies have been done on the link acne caused by dairy.
Even though there isn’t sufficient proof that dairy directly causes acne, it may affect it or make it worse.
One study from 2018 looked at the relationship between dairy consumption and acne in 78,529 children, teens, and young adults.
They found that people between the ages of 7 and 30 who ate any kind of dairy were more likely to get acne caused by dairy.
People who drank low-fat and skim milk were more likely to get acne caused by dairy. Researchers think that this might be because people tend to drink more low-fat and skim milk than whole milk and milk with fat.
They also found that people who drank one or more glasses of milk every day were more likely to get acne caused by dairy than people who drank two to six glasses per week or less.
The researchers say that the quality of the studies they looked at varied, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
The studies couldn’t say for sure if dairy causes acne directly or if taking dairy out of your diet will keep acne from happening.
A 2019 study that looked at the results of several observational studies found that there was a link between drinking milk and acne caused by dairy, but there was no link between yogurt or cheese and acne that was strong enough to be called a link.
4 Culprits Of acne caused by dairy
Researchers have come up with a few ideas about how eating dairy might affect acne caused by dairy.
In the sections that follow, we’ll talk about these in more depth.
1. Growth hormones
IGF-1 is a hormone in the blood that helps cells grow. Milk also has IGF-1 and other hormones like prolactin, prostaglandins, and steroids in it naturally.
In one study, adults who drank three servings of milk every day for 12 weeks had IGF-1 levels that were about 10% higher than those of people who didn’t drink milk.
Also, several studies show that the amount of IGF-1 in the blood of 10–12-year-old children who drink milk goes up by 9–20%.
IGF-1 might make your body make more sebum. Sebum is an oil that is made by the skin that can clog pores and lead to acne caused by dairy.
In another study, people with acne had higher IGF-1 levels than people without acne. Adult women had a very strong link between their IGF-1 level and the number of acne caused by dairy lesions they had.
2. Artificial hormones
Farmers in the United States often give cows recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is a synthetic hormone, to make them make more milk. By making IGF-1 levels higher, RBGH makes a cow make more milk.
Cows that have been given RBGH may make milk with more IGF-1 than milk from cows that have not been given RBGH. When people drink milk from cows that have been treated with rBGH, they may take in small amounts of extra IGF-1, which may result in acne caused by dairy.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDAmost )’s recent review says that there isn’t much evidence that milk from cows treated with rBGH has more IGF-1 than milk from cows not treated with rBGH.
Some health groups have asked if humans can absorb rBGH, which may raise IGF-1 levels on its own. But according to the FDA, bovine growth hormone is not active in humans. This means that even if a person drank milk with rBGH in it, it probably wouldn’t hurt their health.
3. Milk proteins
The link between dairy and acne caused by dairy is stronger for skim milk than for low-fat or whole milk. This could mean that the link isn’t caused by the fat in milk, but by something else in milk, like milk proteins.
Whey and casein are the two main proteins in milk. Whey raises the amount of insulin in the bloodstream while casein raises the amount of IGF-1. These proteins might contribute in acne caused by dairy.
4. Sugar and carbs
Still, most people think that a food’s glycemic index is the most important thing to know when it comes to the link between food and acne caused by dairy. Rich in sugars and simple carbs, these foods tend to have a higher glycemic index and are quickly broken down by your body, which causes your blood glucose levels to rise.
Dr. Amy Kassouf, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said that eating high G.I. foods like pizza, cookies, and sweetened yogurts on a regular basis can cause your body to make more insulin, which can cause inflammation and acne caused by dairy over time. Even though many dairy products have a low G.I., eating too much of them may also cause inflammation in the body and make acne worse.
Studies have shown that eating low-glycemic foods, like many vegetables and fruits, beans, and whole grains, helps stabilize insulin levels and reduce acne caused by dairy.
Can avoiding dairy improve acne?
Word on the street suggests that giving up dairy might help reduce acne caused by dairy, but this has not been proven by scientific tests.
Researchers know that there might be a link between dairy and acne caused by dairy products, but they don’t know why or if avoiding dairy can help acne.
What the research shows is:
- People who eat dairy are more likely to get acne than those who don’t.
- People who drink a glass or more of milk every day are more likely to get acne than those who drink less milk.
- Acne is more common in Western countries, and at some point in their lives, about 80% of people in the U.S. will get it.
- Acne may be linked to the typical Western diet, which is high in dairy proteins and foods with a high glycemic index.
The American Academy of Dermatology does not suggest that people with acne change anything about what they eat. There is also not enough evidence to say that limiting or avoiding milk is a good way to treat acne.
But if someone thinks that what they eat might be making their acne worse, they could keep a daily food diary.
For example, a person could ask themselves if there are any foods or drinks that seem to make their acne worse or cause a breakout. They could then see if their acne gets better if they avoid those things for a day, week, or month.
What Else Can Cause Acne?
So, does dairy cause acne on its own? It’s hard to say because no single factor or irritant acts alone. There are many environmental and dietary factors that can affect the health and appearance of your skin, as well as other medical factors and hormonal cycles.
Murina says that junk food and foods with a high glycemic index and a lot of fat can also cause inflammation in the skin. “These foods also make insulin and insulin-like growth factors more active, which makes acne worse.” So it looks like you should watch out for more than just dairy.
Acne and skin inflammation can be caused by hormones and other medical conditions. Acne can be caused by things like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormone imbalances, and even the changes that happen during a normal menstrual cycle. A study done at Stanford University in 2003 (opens in a new tab) found that stress levels are strongly linked to how bad acne is. Even though dairy can be a cause, it’s not the only one.
According to research, there may be a link between eating dairy and getting acne caused by dairy. At the moment, though, research is limited, and more studies are needed to look into this possible link.
Most theories about the connection between dairy and acne caused by dairy say that IGF-1 is to blame. When this is in high amounts, it could make acne worse.
Even though anecdotal evidence suggests that cutting back on or getting rid of dairy may help acne caused by dairy, no studies have yet shown this to be true.