Four Ways Milk Causes Acne

Monday, October 27, 2008 by: Seppo Puusa
Tags: acne, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) We all know the advertisements where celebrities sport the milk mustache and ask `Got Milk?`. However studies suggest that a more accurate question would be: `Got milk? Got acne?` This article explores how hormones and allergenic proteins in milk could contribute to acne.

At least three large-scale studies reported in the American Journal of Dermatology found a link between drinking milk and acne. NaturalNews reported about a study that found those who drank two or three glasses of milk a day had 44% higher chance of developing severe acne.

Most studies on acne and milk were conducted on teenagers. But anecdotal evidence from thousands of adults suggests that milk also affects adult acne. As many adult acne victims report their skin gets better after quitting milk and dairy products.

But how can a glass of `nature`s perfect food` wreck such disaster on your skin?

In many ways - it seems.

Research suggests that acne is linked to problems with blood sugar metabolism and chronic inflammation. Wild swings in blood sugar levels lead to hormonal reaction that increases sebum production and turnover of skin cells. Chronic inflammation taxes the immune system and opens the door for acne causing bacteria to colonize the blocked skin pores. Click here for more detailed explanation of what causes acne.

Drinking milk leads to a similar hormonal reaction than blood sugar problems do. Further milk can increase inflammation throughout the body.

Though this article only talks about the link between milk and acne, this also applies to all dairy products.

Milk opens the sebum tap

Almost all commercial milk comes from pregnant cows. Milk from pregnant cows contains hormones that are close to hormones that signal the skin cells to produce more sebum.

Milk contains dihydrotestosterone (DHT) precursors, including 5a-pregnanedione and 5a-androstanedione. These hormones are only few steps away from DHT. For acne victims more DHT equals bad news. DHT signals the skin glands to produce more sebum. That`s one reason researchers agree DHT is a prime acnegen.

To make matters even worse skin glands already contain the enzymes required for converting these precursors to DHT. And that means the precursors in milk are immediately converted to DHT.

Milk and IGF-1

DHT is not the only way milk can cause acne. Milk contains an array of powerful growth hormones. That shouldn`t come as a surprise as milk is supposed to make things grow. By drinking milk a newborn calf turns into 1.5 ton steer.

Insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is one of the growth hormones found in milk. IGF-1 is problematic for acne victims for two reasons. It increases sebum production, and it stimulates the growth of skin cells. The faster the skin cells grow the faster they also die. That means more dead skin cells to block the pores. Consequently it also leads to faster aging of the skin.

Unfortunately the bovine version of IGF-1 is identical with humans. And, contrary to what FDA has claimed, it does survive digestion and it goes into your bloodstream. Dairy industry`s own studies confirm this.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (October, 1999, Vol. 99, No. 10) dairy researchers studied 204 healthy men and women. These people regularly consumed less than 1.5 servings of dairy products a day. They divided the participants into two groups. One was the control group that didn`t make any changes. The other group was asked to consume 3 servings of dairy products a day.

The study found that serum (blood) levels of IGF-1 increased by 10% in milk drinkers. IGF-1 levels remained the same for people on the control group. Large-scale studies on the effect of diet on IGF-1 levels confirm these findings. As the abstract of one study says:

"The most consistent finding was a positive association between protein intake with circulating IGF-I concentration (174, 188, 201, 192, and 196 ng/ml across quintiles of protein intake; P = 0.002), which was largely attributable to milk intake"

Holmes et al.
Dietary Correlates of Plasma Insulin-like Growth Factor I and Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 Concentrations
Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention Vol. 11, 852-861, September 2002

Milk, insulin and acne

Insulin is another link between milk and acne.

Higher insulin levels usually mean higher rates of acne. Insulin alone stimulates sebum production, but more significant than that is the fact that insulin levels correlate with the levels of IGF-1 and several sex hormones. These hormones are closely linked to acne.

Drinking milk significantly increases insulin levels, as dairy industry`s own studies confirm.

"The blood glucose and plasma insulin responses to test milk samples were studied in healthy normal volunteers. After an overnight fast the subjects were given 500 ml of either regular fat free milk (abt 25 g lactose) or 500 ml of new low-lactose fat free milk (3.75 g lactose and 4.25 g fructose). Blood glucose levels were not significantly altered after either milk sample, but plasma insulin responses were significantly elevated after milk consumption."

Salminen et al.
Blood glucose and plasma insulin responses to fat free milk and low-lactose fat free milk in healthy human volunteers
Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft Volume 26, Number 1 / March, 1987

Milk and inflammation

Inflammation is the other side of `acne coin`.

Inflammation turns blocked pores into big, red and painful pimples. Inflammation is the body`s response to injury and harmful substances (such as bacteria, virus, chemicals and toxins). Inflammation happens when the immune system attacks invaders and clears foreign substances from the bloodstream.

Unfortunately milk doesn`t have to be as pure white as fresh, fallen snow to end into your fridge. Most milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels), up to 52 powerful antibiotics, blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses.

Most dairy cows live in miserable conditions and are riddled with infections. The cow's immune system produces white blood cells to fight off bacteria and virus. Both white blood cells, commonly referred as pus cells, and bacteria end up into milk. The dairy industry calls pus cells somatic cells and refers to their presence as the somatic cell count (SCC).

In a study of milk sold in New York State the average SCC was 363,000 cells/ml. These white blood cells were produced by the cow to fight off the 24,400 bacteria/ml found in this milk.

If you think pasteurization kills these bacteria, think again. The milk in the study was already pasteurized. As you drink milk the bacteria, pus, herbicides and other chemicals enter your bloodstream. The immune system has to clear them out, which leads to more inflammation and potentially more acne.

Allergies are another inflammatory reaction. So anything that causes an allergic reaction may also cause acne. In milk whey and casein protein are the main allergens. Homogenization of milk puts more of these allergens into your body.

During homogenization milk is forced through small holes with tremendous pressure. This breaks otherwise large fat globules into much smaller pieces. Without homogenization the fat in milk would rise to the top. Homogenization makes sure fat globules remain evenly distributed in milk.

Unfortunately it also changes the membrane covering fat globules. The original fat globule membrane is lost and a new one is formed that incorporates a much greater portion of casein and whey proteins. These much smaller fat globules enter the bloodstream easily. This exposes milk drinkers to larger quantities of allergenic proteins.

As the immune system attacks these foreign proteins it increase inflammation through the body and can lead to more pimples.

What about raw milk

Many health conscious individuals make a sharp distinction between raw and processed milk. Raw milk is said to be health promoting substance.

Of the two raw milk is the healthier choice. Raw and organic milk usually comes from healthier cows (as they are kept in better condition). This means the milk contains less pus, bacteria, chemicals and other pollutants. Processing also makes milk more allergenic. Raw milk is unprocessed and in its natural state. Hence drinkers of raw milk suffer fewer allergic reactions.

Regardless of these advantages acne victims would be wise to avoid all milk. The acne causing hormones are present in raw milk also. They are there because a baby cow requires them for growth and development. Adult humans don`t need them anymore, at least not in such quantities. Milk drinkers expose themselves to these hormones, and that can lead to various health problems - acne being one of them.

In conclusion, the next time you think of getting a glass of milk think of extra sebum, dead skin cells and inflammation it`s going to give you. For any acne victim that should be more than enough to wipe out the milk mustache for good.

About the author

Seppo Puusa is the author of the best-selling acne book Clear for Life: Lifestyle for Health, Happiness and Clear Skin. The book gives a whole new perspective on acne, so it will finally make sense.
Clear for Life shows how the small, everyday choices you make today affect the way your skin looks tomorrow. By consistently making the right choices you engage the body's self-healing powers that can reverse the conditions behind acne. And overtime, acne just fades away.
Clear for Life is not a quick fix, or even a 30-day miracle, but for people who are willing to take responsibility for their own future it offers a simple, clear and makes-sense-in-your-gut solution to permanently clear skin.
To learn more about Clear for Life, please visit:
Seppo also has other websites, such as Proactiv Solution Info Center with hype free reviews and information about Proactiv, and Exposed Acne Treatment site at

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