As a culture, our intake of milk and other dairy products has increased over the past 100 years—and so has our acne problem. The link between the two has been suggested for years, and now scientists and dermatologists have confirmed the fact.

A systematic review of 21 observational studies and six clinical trials revealed clear links between milk and acne. In two of these controlled trials, it was found that cow’s milk increased both the number of people who got acne as well as its degree of severity. Also alarming: the other large randomized prospective controlled trials found that people who had a higher sugar and glycemic intake (think breads, rices, cereals, flour products, etc.) also had significantly more acne.

Why does milk cause acne, though? Doesn’t it “do a body good”? Not really, unless you’re a calf. Cow milk was designed to grow calves. It is full of anabolic hormones including insulin and testosterone. In fact there are over 60 hormones in the average glass of milk, regardless of whether it is store-bought, organic or raw.

Dairy causes a spike in certain hormones and insulin levels that have clearly been shown to stimulate your skin to produce acne breakouts.

A 2010 Clinics in Dermatology paper confirmed this as well, stating that “The natural function of milk being to stimulate growth, it contains anabolic steroids as well as true growth hormones… [that] add to the potency of milk as a stimulant of acne.”

The confirmation of the link between milk and acne is good news for the over 17 million people in our country who suffer from acne, as it will help them take charge of the health of their skin and combat most pimples before they have a chance to begin.

Although dropping the milk habit is almost certain to improve one’s pimple problem, chronic acne might not disappear with a change in diet. See our acne treatments page to read about the treatment options we offer here at Zimmet Vein & Dermatology.