With nearly 85% of teenagers and 50% of adult women living with acne, many of us have asked this question. A recent meta-analysis reviewed all the available studies to examine this relationship to answer this question.
After a close look, milk consumption was associated with acne with a few interesting findings:
1. The association was only significant in people with moderate – severe acne but not present in those with mild acne. This means the larger and redder the pimples, the more likely the studies supported a relationship between milk consumption and acne.
2. The more milk consumed the bigger the correlation. High intake levels of milk, particularly drinking more than one glass a day, showed the biggest relationship.
3. There was a stronger association with skim milk than with low or full fat milk. The authors think these effects may be related to increased whey protein consumption and increased production of IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor-1) due to less satiety with small amounts of fat free products.
If you have moderate to severe acne and are interested in what you can change in your diet to help, consider decreasing your milk consumption to less than one glass of milk a day and avoid skim milk or fat-free dairy products for up to 3 months. As an added bonus, avoiding dairy will make oral tetracycline antibiotics that are often prescribed for severe acne more effective.
* Studies like this one are not sufficient to say that dairy consumption causes acne. For more information, the article was published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology August 2018.