Jonette E. Keri; Rajiv I. Nijhawan


Expert Rev Dermatol. 2008;3(4):437-440. 

In This Article

Milk and Acne

Milk's contribution to the development of acne has often been debated, but two recent studies implicate its role. The Nurses Health Study II retrospectively evaluated 47,355 women, who completed questionnaires regarding diet and teenage acne, and found a positive correlation between milk (both whole and skim) in teenage acne.[29] These women's teenage sons were studied in the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), which also found a positive association between the intake of skim milk and acne.[10] Interestingly, a genetic association was not mentioned. The authors do recognize their studies' limitations, such as the retrospective design of the first study and the self-assessment of acne in the second.

Although the association of dairy and acne remains unclear, similar studies and additional nutritional research are invaluable steps to help delineate diet's potential role in the pathogenesis of acne. According to Holmes et al., milk, which has been associated with increased IGF-1 concentrations, may have a specific correlation to the development of acne similar to the role IGF-1 may have in the previously mentioned high glycemic diets. Furthermore, there is a hypothesis that cow's milk has endogenous hormones that may also stimulate comedogenesis.[30] Milk contains several components that may affect the pilosebaceous unit, such as estrogens, progesterone, androgens, androgen precursors (including dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate and androstenedione), 5-α-reduced steroids (including dihydrotestosterone, 5-α-pregnanedione and 5-α-androstanedione) and bioactive molecules (such as glucocorticoids and IGF-1).[31,32,33] Additionally, iodine in milk has been reported to possibly exacerbate acne.[34]


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