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Got Pimples? Dairy and Sugar Linked to Acne

Teens who avoid milk and sugary foods may experience fewer skin blemishes, according to a new study in April’s International Journal of Dermatology. Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., and her co-authors reviewed 27 previously published scientific studies and found that the more milk young people drank, the more likely they were to develop acne.

milk carton with acne“Setting aside milkshakes will likely do more to prevent blemishes than a drugstore full of commercial products,” says Dr. Ferdowsian, associate director of the Washington Center for Clinical Research. “Milk appears to fuel hormone imbalances that can lead to acne.” Sugary foods appear to have a similar effect. Surprisingly, studies involving chocolate were inconclusive.

Adolescents following a Western diet often experience the overproduction of natural hormones. Hormones or proteins found in milk may increase skin oil production, leading to pimples. Conversely, diets high in fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans prevent the buildup of excess hormones in the system.

In populations following a largely plant-based diet low in refined sugars and dairy products, such as Kitavan islanders and indigenous Peruvians, acne is rare. Scientific studies also note that as populations adopt Western diets through migration or cultural change, acne becomes commonplace.

Learn more about other health concerns about dairy.



Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H.
Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H.


PCRM Online, May 2009

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