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The Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk

Dairy is considered a major cause of the acne epidemic and other more serious chronic diseases in the Western world due to the “abuse” of the mammalian postnatal signaling system by widespread cow milk consumption.

May 14, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Image thanks to UGA College of Ag.

Transcript

Here’s the latest update published 2011. Evidence for the acne promoting effects of milk, Though acne is an epidemic skin disease in western countries, afflicting more than 85% of adolescents, acne is absent in non-western populations which do not consume milk and dairy products. They go on to review all the studies which I’ve already talked about.
By million years of evolution, they conclude, the growth signaling system of mammalian milk is exclusively and physiologically provided to the newborn only during the nursing period. The chronic ‘abuse’ of this mammalian postnatal signaling system by widespread cow milk and dairy consumption in humans of industrialized societies has been proposed to be the major cause of the acne epidemic and the more serious chronic western diseases. There’s lots of diseases associated with unrestricted growth. So what should we do?
There are two solutions to this problem: the restriction of milk protein consumption or we somehow engineer milk that doesn’t have these effects. Either way, Both, restriction of milk consumption or the generation of less insulin affecting milk will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne.

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 volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This video concludes my three-part series on the latest on this topic. Make sure to check out my last video and National Dairy Council on Acne and Milk from the day before. Acne & Cancer Connection is another video along these lines. And if you're interested in other topics, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Skim Milk and AcneStool Size and Breast Cancer RiskAvoiding Dairy to Prevent Parkinson's, and Diet and Cellulite 

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This video concludes my three-part series on the latest on this topic.
    Make sure to check out my
    last video
    and National
    Dairy Council on Acne and Milk
    from the day before. Acne
    & Cancer Connection
    is another video along these lines. And if
    you’re interested in other topics, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand
    subjects
    .

    • soff

      Dr. I would like some help, I went vegan 15 months ago, and after 3 months I developed acne, and i have it since, also increase facial hair, I tried many supplements and nothings seems to work, why improving my diet would give me acne for the first time in my life? 27yo

      • drconniend

        It may be a coincidence that when you changed your diet that you developed acne and an increase in facial hair. You may want to consider seeing the advice of your medical doctor or of an OB/GYN and have them run some tests on you. Increased acne and/or facial hair may suggest increased testosterone levels associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. You should have it checked out.

  • Bgdew-lixo

    I suffered a lot when I was a teenager because of acne. My father is now with severe chronic diseases. It’s revolting to know we were fooled by propaganda.

  • pbeach

    Why do I still get pimples? I am 37 year old woman and have been vegan for 5 years.

    • Tedster

       

      I don’t get many pimples, but when I do, it’s only on places
      where I apply lotion or where I don’t sufficiently rinse off the hair
      conditioner that I use.   

    • Herbal Halo

       Your skin is working as your third kidney (kidneys are not functioning as well as they should)  trying to clean toxins from your lymphatic system (immune system).  Clean up your diet ( eat plant based even better raw plant based diet) in order to return the body to an alkaline state.  Clean up your organs and colon and your skin will clear.  

    • Melanie

       That’s an interesting question. I suppose it could be diet, hygiene, or a combination of both. I suppose it would be more common in hot, humid and dirty cities than in other places. Maybe there is something in your vegan diet that your system cannot handle, but it could be anybody’s guess. If you look at the recent Kale and Immunity video, it would suggest cooked foods may be better for the immune system compared to raw. Again, I just don’t think there is enough info yet to make any drastic changes.

    • DrDons

       You most likely have a condition called “perioral dermatitis”. This is a condition of unknown cause and is not the same as acne. If that is the correct diagnosis (always key before you start to treat anything) the first step is to avoid corticosteroid creams, cosmetics or other creams all of which can make the condition worse. Following a plant based diet makes good sense. If the condition doesn’t respond to these simple measures you will need to work with a physician to make sure the diagnosis is correct and get the proper treatment. I would keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org as you never know when a new study will come up to shed light on the subject.

      • Pbeach

        Thanks for your reply. I generally get one or two large pimples on my chin at a time, not lots of small ones.
        I was prescribed retin A and benzoyl peroxide, they don’t really work.
        My diet is whole foods low fat vegan.
        I wash my face with a tea tree cleansing gel, and use mineral makeup.
        I don’t take any medications.
        But still the zits!

        • Judy

          This may sound simplistic, but do you ever sit with your chin resting on your hand (perhaps even without being aware of it)? That can cause pimples on the chin.

          • Toxins

             I have not seen any scientific data on this nor have I ever heard of this occurring. I would say this is more fiction than truth.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Do you eat lots of sugars?  High Glycemic load diets and Dairy products are linked with acne.  Here’s the link:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22419445
      I hope this helps. 

      • pbeach

        I don’t eat sugar, except I do eat lots of fruit.

        • John

          lol so you do eat sugar…and a lot of it! fruit is full of sugar, however sugar does not cause acne

    • Sybil

      Pbeach – I’m 54 and have had acne since I was 10. After many years of illness, I figured out I have mercury poisoning. 14 months ago, I had a dental revision and have been working on rebuilding my body – the endocrine system is especially sensitive to mercury. Regaining my thyroid health is proving to be the most difficult, but I’m getting there. Skin has improved greatly. It could be your thyroid. 

  • Jmar

    I’d be interested to know if it were related to the hormones given to non organic cows and whether milk from hormone free cows had the same effect.
    Also if they are talking about kids and milk – is it flavoured milks full of other stuff, milk on cereals like cocopops, nutrigrain (aka non-nutri-sugar) ?

  • guest

    Does anyone know if IGF-1 would still be present in ghee?

  • Ilana

    Dr Greger, Can you address the iodine claim on slide 2 of this HuffPo article? I’ve never heard about it before. http://huff.to/Wwchu7

  • Kaleb

    Dr, Gregor,

    I have recently adopted a vegan diet for the second time in my life (first attempt did not go so well in college). Since beginning the diet, I have noticed an increase in my acne levels. I have never had an acne probelm before, but now I have developed more pimples on my face, and the occasional one on my shoulder blades. I am wondering if this is just a transitional period? I consume a substantial amount of nuts, seeds, etc. and am wondering if perhaps the high fat content contributes to this issue. I have noticed and increase in the quality of my skin quality other than the acne.

  • HnKat

    Dr. Greger, I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years now and vegan going to 6 months. However, my skin has been worse then ever since going on a fully plant based diet. Could there be a reason for that? I have a lot of pimples on my forehead, chin and neck. Is there something I could do to improve my skin?

    • juniper

      google up on the connection between acne and a high-glycemic diet, newer studies are finally narrowing this stuff down.
      if you’re like me, you might be more susceptible to food-caused breakouts than other people, for whatever reason, so even a moderate increase in your daily carb intake/glycemic load might be making the difference.

      after two months, avoiding foods that have a dramatic effect on blood sugar level (added sugars [including agave and stuff like that], processed grain and starch products, and alcohol) and including lots of vegetables on a daily basis has improved my acne more than anything else ever has (plus my menstrual cramps are gone). oh and i was already eating vegan too, just to be clear. :}

  • Kevin

    What can give to my. 13 month old instead of milk

  • Sebastian Tristan

    I can testify that dairy (and strangely milk more than cheese, butter, etc.) worsens acne. I have suffered for years from cystic back acne and when I stopped eating dairy, my back acne improved by about 50%. It did not disappear, but it got much better. Also curiously, it would take only hours after ingesting milk or dairy (by mistake or by other cause) to see the effect of dairy on acne. Now I’m mostly acne-free (due to Accutane), though for some reason I do not understand, almonds also give me some pimples. Thankfully, they usually disappear within days, they’re not permanent.

  • Han

    I’ve had rather bad acne in my puberty and it became better in my adulthood. When I was 44 I became a vegan. After two weeks I got a lot of blackheads at places I never had them before, for example the back of my head and after an extra month they were gone. Now I only get them after a hefty sweating session, for example jogging in the heat.