Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

Skim Milk and Acne

Three Harvard studies linking acne with dairy consumption in adolescent girls and boys blamed the sex steroid hormone content naturally found in cow’s milk (even without added hormones), particularly skim.

May 11, 2012 |
GD Star Rating


Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to killthebird


The Harvard Nurses study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, funded in part by none other than the National Dairy Council itself, found that the association between milk intake during adolescence and severe physician-diagnosed teenage acne was even more marked for skim milk than for other forms of milk…
This may be because there is so much more estrogen in skim milk. Researchers found 15 steroid sex hormones in commercial milk right off the shelves, and the highest levels were found in skim milk, compared to 2% and whole.
This study involved asking women what they ate years ago in high school, though—who can even remember?
So the next year Harvard researchers studied milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls directly, following 6000 girls, aged 9-15 for a few years and found the same darn thing: a positive link between intake of milk and acne. Maybe it’s just girls, though?
So next they studied milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys, and here we go again: a positive association between intake of skim milk and acne.
And it doesn't appear to be an issue with bovine growth hormone injections or added steroids. This is just what milk contains naturally. It should surprise no one that milk contains such a heavy complement of growth-enhancing hormones. Milk is, after all, specifically designed to make things grow.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Make sure to see yesterday's video and Monday's final installment in this 3-part video series on the latest science on milk as a risk factor for acne development. I've previously covered this topic in my video Dairy Hormonal Interference. And there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects here at

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Skim Milk and AcneStool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, and Treating Sensitive Skin From the Inside Out

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Make sure to see yesterday’s video and tomorrow’s final installment in this 3-part video series on the latest science on milk as a risk factor for acne development. I’ve previously covered this topic in my video Dairy Hormonal Interference. And there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects here at

  • Oliver Hugh Perry

    Great website! your doing excellent work. :)

  • Pete

    Is there less hormone content in raw milk sold by local farmers? I have a friend who claims that kefir cleared up her acne. Thanks for these videos!

  • Pablo Andrés Castro Espina

    Dr. Greger I asked you a question on another video but you probably didn’t see it, so I’ll ask it to you here. Based on all the literature you have reviewed, do you think an entirely vegan diet is the healthiest? Thank you

  • Cbiski

    I thought the estrogens were carried in the fat portion of milk?

    • Alexandra Georgiadis


      When the fat is taken out of milk it leaves a higher concentration of the proteins and various hormones.  Estrogen is often sequestered in fat tissue within the body, but it seems that, within milk, the estrogen remains after the fat is removed.  
      For other information on the correlation between dairy and acne, check out these videos:

  • Lisa

    Dr. Greger,

    Are there specific foods, vitamins, or herbs you suggest in combating acne?

  • Vivian Malato

    I do not use dairy products, and I still have acne.