Got Acne?

If you had it as a teenager you known how embarrassing, even humiliating this skin disease (yes, it is considered a disease) can be. If you continued to have breakouts as an adult, the emotional distress probably made you feel like you were cursed. If you had a severe case of it in childhood, the resulting facial and other body scarring can last a lifetime.

Few if any of us as kids or adults were ever told that a simple solution exists to make the pimples and scourge of acne go away—just stop eating dairy products. For most people, stopping those pesky acne breakouts can be that simple and the healing results can be seen within days or weeks.

The pimply skin condition called acne comes about when hair follicles get plugged up with glandular oils (sebum) and dead skin cells, creating an environment for the buildup of bacteria. Sebum production can be intensified by hormones excreted during puberty and by dairy food consumption.1

“Acne is absent in populations consuming Paleolithic diets with low glycemic load and no consumption of milk or dairy products,” observed a 2012 dermatological medical study article. “Epidemiological evidence confirms that milk consumption has an acnepromoting or acne-aggravating effect.”2

If you often consume ice cream along with milk you multiply your risk of developing acne or worsening it. A 2012 study of 18 to 30 year olds—44 with acne and 44 without—concluded that “the frequency of milk and ice cream consumptions was significantly higher” in those who fell prey to acne vulgaris. There was little doubt that milk and ice cream consumption act as acne triggers.3

How exactly does dairy trigger or worsen acne symptoms? There are several prevailing theories, both in need of more confirming research. One is that the proteins in dairy (along with leucine-rich
meat) are to blame.4

A second idea is that dairy interacts with hormone-responsive glands in the body to trigger outbreaks. Concluded a 2009 medical study: “Acne, breast cancer and prostate cancer have all been linked epidemiologically to dairy intake. Although mechanisms postulated here remain to be accurately defined, the likely link involves Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 as a general stimulant, synergized by the steroid hormones present in milk. The IGF-1 may be either absorbed from milk, or stimulated by its ingestion, or both.”5

Whichever way that acne is unleashed in the human body, the cure is easy to identify—cut out the dairy foods from your diet! If this had been a trial and the evidence for a link between dairy and acne was weighed by a jury, I know the verdict would be: Guilty as charged.


1 Acne: Definition. The Mayo Clinic.
2 Melnik BC. “Diet in acne: further evidence for the role of nutrient signaling in acne
pathogenesis.” Acta Derm Venereol. 2012 May; 92(3):228–31.
3 Ismail NH. Et al. “High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related
to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study.” BMC Dermatol.
2012 Aug 16;12:13.
4 Melnik B. “Dietary intervention in acne: Attenuation of increased mTORC1 signaling
promoted by Western diet” Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jan 1;4 (1):20–32.
5 Danby FW. “Acne, dairy and cancer: The Salpha-P link.” Dermatoendocrinol. 2009
Jan; 1(1):12–6.


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