Do skim milk and dairy make acne worse?

Milk in Coffee Affect On Acne

There's been a longtime debate between Dermatologists about the link between milk and breakouts — mostly, if there is a link at all. Is it true that skim milk and dairy can make acne worse? According to a new study, the answer is YES. 

But wait. 

Before you throw your lowfat milk latte across the room, let's look at the study. First of all, you should know the study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and it looked at the high school diet of 47,355 women and their acne. 

The study found that women who had a high intake of milk DO have a higher risk for acne. And of all the kinds of milk, skim milk was the worst. The study found that women who drank skim milk had a 50% higher risk to get acne than women who didn't drink a lot of milk in their teens.

The study also found that instant breakfast drinks, cottage cheese and cream cheese were all positively associated with acne. The authors hypothesized that the association with milk is related to the presence of growth hormones in milk and dairy. (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52[2]:207-14). 

Three other studies reported similar results, too.

In a study of 4,273 teen boys, there was a 10% increased risk for acne associated with intake of whole or 2% milk. There was a 17% increased risk for 1% milk and a 19% increased risk for skim milk (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 May;58[5]: 787-93). 

A different study, this one with 6,000 girls, had similar results: A 19% increased risk of acne for whole milk, 17% for low-fat milk and 19% for skim milk (Dermatol Online J. 2006 May 30;12[4]:1).

And one more for ya. This study had 225 teenagers with moderate or no acne. “We took teens with acne and compared them to acne-free controls. A positive association was found between acne and with total dairy and with non-fat dairy intake," they say. (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 Aug;75[2]:318-22).

Yep, according to these studies, there's a link between milk and acne, especially skim milk and acne. But don't freak — this is what milk alternatives were created for! Next time you order a drink that you'd normally have with dairy milk, try it with almond milk — it's dairy free. If you're not into almond milk, you can try coconut milk or hemp milk, too…both are super delicious. 

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