Acne and milk – spot on...but not in a good way!
The growth hormone, IGF-1 found in milk and milk products and linked to cancer, is also a culprit in causing acne. At least two-thirds of cows’ milk in the UK is taken from pregnant cows, at a time when the hormone content increases substantially (see page 8). Increased insulin needed to digest milk products, together with IGF-1, make your skin cells more sensitive to androgens. These are steroid hormones present in dairy products and which encourage more and faster production of oil (sebum) and skin cells. The result is oily skin and clogged pores where bacteria can breed. There's an undeniable correlation between acne and milk. It’s interesting that body builders who use steroid hormones are more prone to acne as are athletes who use whey-based supplements in shakes and the like. Dairy affects hormone levels and therefore the skin. Case studies show that some young athletes lost their acne when taken off whey supplements but it returned when they went back to using them (Silverburg, 2012). Two large studies looked at nine to 15 year-old children, including over 6,000 girls (Adebamowo et al, 2006) and more than 4,000 boys (Adebamowo et al, 2008). For girls, there was a strong link between acne severity and all types of dairy products – severe acne was 20 per cent more likely if they consumed two or more servings of milk per day compared to girls who consumed less than one serving per week. For boys, the association was significant for all their milk intake but also for skimmed milk alone – 16 per cent more likely to have severe acne on two or more servings of milk per day compared to boys who consumed less than one serving per week. A recent study showed that severe acne increased with rising milk consumption (more than three servings a week). (Di Landro et al, 2012.) The research is very clear – acne and milk go hand in hand. Dairy's the main offender where acne is concerned, closely followed by sugary and processed food. A vegan diet high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds, on the other hand, is best for your skin. Oh, and research shows that vegan chocolate (non-dairy) is not linked to acne!