Continuing research into the causes of acne has brought to the forefront information related to diet and acne. There is new evidence that confirm the old wives tale of dairy and acne breakouts. Recent science now believes it is possible that milk, and dairy products in general, can contribute to acne breakouts
While not a new theory, there is increasing evidence that dairy products may contribute to acne outbreaks in teens and adults. While leading dermatologists disagree over whether or not fats in our diet contribute to acne, and in this case, the fats contained in milk and other dairy products, they all overwhelmingly agree that hormonal imbalance is the main cause of acne. Consuming dairy products means ingesting the hormones produced by the cow during milk production.
Approximately 80% of all acne sufferers in the United States are teenagers. This is because during the pubescent years, an overload of hormones floods the system, particularly the hormone 5 alpha dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This hormone is known to be the primary trigger, in both males and females, for the release of fatty secretions from the sebaceous glands. These secretions combine with bacteria and other contaminants, clogging the pores and setting the stage for an acne outbreak. This hormonal imbalance is also prevalent in women as part of their menstrual cycle, causing monthly acne breakouts.
The theory of dairy products contribution to acne outbreaks was put to the test in the 1960s by a dermatologist from Pasadena, California, named Dr. Jerome Fisher. Doctor Fisher studied the dietary history of over 1000 acne patients from the Pasadena area and observed that the patients who suffered most from acne outbreaks consumed greater amounts of milk and dairy products than those who did not.
Dr. Fisher then began a ten year study of teen-age acne sufferers, again noting a correlation between milk intake and acne. His findings were reported to the American Dermatological Association (ADA), stating that as milk consumption decreased, so did acne outbreaks.
It is also believed that dairy products may contain excessive levels of iodine. Iodine has the potential to irritate the pores and can enter the blood system through milk supplies containing iodine. While iodine is not naturally present in milk, it is believed that it enters the milk through contaminated milking equipment and some medications that are administered to cows. Research performed at various dairy farms throughout the Midwest confirmed the assumption.
It is also possible that diary has a bigger effect on acne in women, or teens, than on men or adults in general. Though there has been no scientific evidence to confirm this, many of the dairy and acne studies conducted recently involved young women who drank both regular milk and skim milk. So, the jury is still out with regards to just who can contribute an acne breakout to a bowl of cereal in the morning.
The easiest way to determine if dairy products are contributing to your acne outbreaks is to refrain from consuming dairy related products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream. If abstaining from these products reduces the occurrence of acne outbreaks, diet modification should be considered to help control future instances of acne.