It’s an age-old question that has been plaguing acne-prone individuals for decades: does dairy cause acne? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a bit more complicated. It’s estimated that over 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 suffer from acne, and while there are a variety of factors at play when it comes to acne flare-ups, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests dairy intake can be a potential factor.
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. It is characterized by the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules, pustules, and cysts. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million people each year. While it typically affects people during their teenage years, it can also affect adults.
What is Dairy?
Dairy is a broad term used to describe any food that is made from the milk of mammals, such as cows, goats, sheep, and buffalo. It includes products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter. Dairy products are a major source of dietary calcium and vitamin D, and are widely consumed in the United States and around the world.
Does Dairy Cause Acne?
The link between dairy and acne has been studied for many years, and while the results of the studies have been somewhat conflicting, there is evidence to suggest that dairy can contribute to acne. Several studies have found that dairy consumption can increase the risk of developing acne. One study found that people who consumed 2 servings of dairy per day were 22% more likely to develop acne than those who consumed less than 2 servings per day.
How Does Dairy Cause Acne?
The exact mechanism by which dairy can cause acne is still not fully understood, but there are several theories. One theory is that dairy can increase the production of androgens, which are hormones that can stimulate the sebaceous glands and cause them to produce more oil. This can clog the pores and lead to the formation of comedones, which are the first step in the formation of acne.
Another theory is that dairy can increase insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is a hormone that has been linked to the development of acne. IGF-1 stimulates the growth of cells, which can lead to the formation of comedones. Finally, dairy can also contain hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, which can also contribute to the development of acne.
What is the Evidence?
As mentioned earlier, several studies have found that dairy can increase the risk of acne. A study published in 2007 found that people who consumed 2 servings of dairy per day had a 22% greater risk of developing acne than those who consumed less than 2 servings per day. Another study published in 2008 found that people who consumed 4 servings of dairy per day had a 44% greater risk of developing acne than those who consumed less than 4 servings per day.
Other studies have found that dairy consumption can increase the severity of acne. A study published in 2009 found that people who consumed dairy had more severe acne than those who did not. A similar study published in 2011 found that people who consumed dairy had more inflammatory acne lesions than those who did not.
In conclusion, there is evidence to suggest that dairy can contribute to the development and severity of acne. While dairy is a major source of dietary calcium and vitamin D, people who are prone to acne should consider reducing their intake of dairy products. In addition, it is important to note that other factors such as genetics, hormones, and stress can also contribute to the development of acne.