Is Milk Causing Your Acne? A New Study Finds A Surprising Link Between Dairy & Your Skin


We've all heard the stories and studies about the connection between what you eat and how clear your skin is. If I had a dollar for every time my friends told me they were cutting dairy or sugar to try and clear up their skin, I'd have enough for some great new beauty products. But according to a recent study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, there actually could be a link between the amount of milk you drink and how much acne you have. But it's not as simple as it seems — here are the deets.

The study from JAAD looked at the consumption of dairy products among teenagers who had what was determined to be moderate acne. The surprising connection between dairy and acne? The "consumption of low-fat/skim milk, but not full-fat milk, was positively associated with acne." Crazy, right? I turned to Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group for some answers about what exactly this means. His reaction? It's part of an overall theme over the past five years of studies finding a connection between dairy and acne.

"Milk contains hormones in it, such as estrogen, which can affect the person who’s drinking it," Dr. Fenton says. "Dairy has also been shown to stimulate testosterone in those who consume it. Additionally, it may also stimulate the production of other hormones and cell signaling, particularly inflammatory signals, in the body."

So why low-fat or skim milk? "This may be related to the higher rate at which nonfat milk gets metabolized, though it is unclear," Dr. Fenton says.

Makes sense, right? I've long believed there's some sort of connection between the hormones in milk and how they make you feel. My evidence is 100 percent anecdotal, but I personally feel better when I consume a limited amount of dairy. And TBH, this study is convincing me I might be onto something.

But, if you want to try cutting milk out of your diet to help with your skin, don't expect it to be a miracle cure. Dr. Fenton agrees, saying cutting dairy could help, but not necessarily. "In my experience, this seems to be person dependent. I have seen some people see some modest improvements when changing their diet, and others it has no impact."

If you're dealing with acne, figuring out the symptoms and causes with a derm is your best bet. But if you want to give yourself a little extra help, it might be a good idea to cut non-fat and skim milk from your diet. (Full fat FTW!)

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