Acne and Dairy

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  Dairy is an inflammatory food and it fuels acne. Take a look and study more at



Nutrients. 2018 Aug 9;10(8):1049.

doi: 10.3390/nu10081049.

Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Christian R Juhl 1Helle K M Bergholdt 2Iben M Miller 3Gregor B E Jemec 4 5Jørgen K Kanters 6Christina Ellervik 7 8 9 10


A meta-analysis can help inform the debate about the epidemiological evidence on dairy intake and development of acne. A systematic literature search of PubMed from inception to 11 December 2017 was performed to estimate the association of dairy intake and acne in children, adolescents, and young adults in observational studies. We estimated the pooled random effects odds ratio (OR) (95% CI), heterogeneity (I²-statistics, Q-statistics), and publication bias. We included 14 studies (n = 78,529; 23,046 acne-cases/55,483 controls) aged 7⁻30 years. ORs for acne were 1.25 (95% CI: 1.15⁻1.36; p =6.13 × 10-8) for any dairy, 1.22 (1.08⁻1.38; p = 1.62 × 10-3) for full-fat dairy, 1.28 (1.13⁻1.44; p = 8.23 × 10-5) for any milk, 1.22 (1.06⁻1.41; p = 6.66 × 10-3) for whole milk, 1.32 (1.16⁻1.52; p = 4.33 × 10-5) for low-fat/skim milk, 1.22 (1.00⁻1.50; p = 5.21 × 10-2) for cheese, and 1.36 (1.05⁻1.77; p = 2.21 × 10-2) for yogurt compared to no intake. ORs per frequency of any milk intake were 1.24 (0.95⁻1.62) by 2⁻6 glasses per week, 1.41 (1.05⁻1.90) by 1 glass per day, and 1.43 (1.09⁻1.88) by ≥2 glasses per day compared to intake less than weekly. Adjusted results were attenuated and compared unadjusted. There was publication bias (p = 4.71 × 10-3), and heterogeneity in the meta-analyses were explained by dairy and study characteristics. In conclusion, any dairy, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, was associated with an increased OR for acne in individuals aged 7⁻30 years. However, results should be interpreted with caution due to heterogeneity and bias across studies.


Am J Clin Dermatol. 2021 Jan;22(1):55-65.

doi: 10.1007/s40257-020-00542-y.

Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment

Hilary Baldwin 1 2Jerry Tan 3 4


Our understanding of the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris is still evolving. It is known that multiple factors impact acne pathophysiology, including genetic, hormonal, inflammatory, and environmental influences. Because of its implications in many of these factors, diet has been a part of the acne discussion for decades. Several studies have evaluated the significance of the glycemic index of various foods and glycemic load in patients with acne, demonstrating individuals with acne who consume diets with a low glycemic load have reduced acne lesions compared with individuals on high glycemic load diets. Dairy has also been a focus of study regarding dietary influences on acne; whey proteins responsible for the insulinotropic effects of milk may contribute more to acne development than the actual fat or dairy content. Other studies have examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acid and γ-linoleic acid consumption in individuals with acne, showing individuals with acne benefit from diets consisting of fish and healthy oils, thereby increasing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake. Recent research into the effects of probiotic administration in individuals with acne present promising results; further study of the effects of probiotics on acne is needed to support the findings of these early studies. In this review, we discuss the current evidence regarding the diets of US patients with acne and how they may impact acne and acne treatment.


J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 Aug;75(2):318-22.

doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.04.030. Epub 2016 May 27.

Consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne

Caroline L LaRosa 1Kim A Quach 2Kirsten Koons 1Allen R Kunselman 3Junjia Zhu 3Diane M Thiboutot 4Andrea L Zaenglein 5


Background: Recent literature has implicated dairy as having a potential acne-inducing effect.

Results: The amount of low-fat/skim milk consumed by participants with acne with significantly higher (P = .01) than those with no acne. No significant difference was found among total dairy intake, saturated fat or trans-fat, or glycemic load. No significant difference was found for total energy intake or body mass index.

Conclusions: Consumption of low-fat/skim milk, but not full-fat milk, was positively associated with acne.



J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Mar;31(3):530-535.

doi: 10.1111/jdv.13835. Epub 2016 Jul 16.

Acne and dairy products in adolescence: results from a Norwegian longitudinal study

M Ulvestad 1E Bjertness 2F Dalgard 3J A Halvorsen 1


Background: Acne is a very common skin condition, and it is of great interest to elucidate lifestyle factors that may contribute to its occurrence. In the last decade, the acne-diet connection has been brought back to credibility.

Results: The overall prevalence of moderate to severe acne was 13.9%. High intakes (≥2 glasses per day) of full-fat dairy products were associated with moderate to severe acne. In boys with exclusively high intakes of full-fat dairy products, the odds ratio for acne was 4.81 (1.59-14.56). A high total intake of dairy products was associated with acne in girls (OR 1.80, 1.02-3.16). No significant associations were found between acne and intake of semi-skimmed or skimmed dairy products, and not with moderate intakes of any fat variety of dairy products.

Conclusion: This study shows association between high intakes of dairy products and acne in adolescence. Our findings support a hypothesis suggesting that dairy consumption may be a factor contributing to acne. The study is based on multiple hypothesis testing, and the methodological limitations must be considered when interpreting the results.


Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45.

doi: 10.1159/000325580.Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products

Bodo C Melnik 1


Acne vulgaris, the most common skin disease of western civilization, has evolved to an epidemic affecting more than 85% of adolescents. Acne can be regarded as an indicator disease of exaggerated insulinotropic western nutrition. Especially milk and whey protein-based products contribute to elevations of postprandial insulin and basal insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) plasma levels. It is the evolutional principle of mammalian milk to promote growth and support anabolic conditions for the neonate during the nursing period. Whey proteins are most potent inducers of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide secreted by enteroendocrine K cells which in concert with hydrolyzed whey protein-derived essential amino acids stimulate insulin secretion of pancreatic β-cells. Increased insulin/IGF-I signaling activates the phosphoinositide-3 kinase/Akt pathway, thereby reducing the nuclear content of the transcription factor FoxO1, the key nutrigenomic regulator of acne target genes. Nuclear FoxO1 deficiency has been linked to all major factors of acne pathogenesis, i.e. androgen receptor transactivation, comedogenesis, increased sebaceous lipogenesis, and follicular inflammation. The elimination of the whey protein-based insulinotropic mechanisms of milk will be the most important future challenge for nutrition research. Both, restriction of milk consumption or generation of less insulinotropic milk will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne.



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