Milk and dairy products can have a direct impact on acne and acne treatment. BiON acne products achieve control of acne in over 90% of cases. The other 10% of cases involve chronic acne that has not responded to any form of treatment. Control of this 10% of cases can be achieved, but requires BiON acne products in combination with rather simple diet modifications. Chronic and uncontrollable acne (about 6% of the acne population) frequently involves wheat-induced inflammation. Another small segment of the acne population may have linoleic acid deficiency associated with whiteheads and possibly blackheads. These issues are covered in the Acne & Wheat and Acne & Essential Fatty Acids pages.
For another small percentage of the adult acne, acne vulgaris and cystic acne population, acne may be stimulated by milk and/or dairy products. Data from the Nurses Health Study II, which as established by Dr. Walter Willett, provided conclusive evidence of a positive association between the development of severe acne and cows milk. Milk contains hormones which may effect the sebaceous glands. These hormones can be absorbed into the body and find their way to the skin and sebaceous glands just like our own self-produced testosterone. These milk hormones stimulate sebum production.
In the nurses study, a group of females who drank one cup of milk a day was compared to another group that drank three cups per day. The group that drank three cups a day was 22% more likely to have severe acne. It is supposed that the 22% group are more sensitive to hormone promoted acne. Other simultaneous factors can be involved, such as the beginning of the monthly cycle and/or stress. For example, a woman could drink two cups of milk a day and experience no influx in acne, but when two cups of milk daily are combined with the beginning of the monthly cycle and/or an unusual amount of stress, the combination creates a stimulation that causes an acne flare. If new infections seem to occur with the monthly cycle, being very thorough with the BiON acne regimens and reducing dairy for 5 to 7 days before the cycle and continuing 2 to 3 days into the cycle, may provide a solution by reducing the acne stimulation to below the threshold level.
When we digest the proteins in dairy, they release a hormone similar to insulin, called Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This hormone is known to trigger breakouts. Dairy cows are treated with artificial hormones to increase their milk supply. Many dairy farmers add hormones to the feed of their cows to stimulate milk production and enable the cow to produce more milk. As a result, most milk is very high in IGF-1. IGF-1 is a growth factor that peaks in the human body during adolescence when acne is usually at its worst. It is believed that IGF-1, along with testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), trigger acne breakouts. In several studies, high milk consumption was linked to high IGF-1 levels. Skim milk was associated with higher IGF-1 levels than whole milk and causes more acne breakouts. Milk contains components related to the hormone testosterone that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne. Sometimes the hormones in dairy can also interact with our own hormones, which affects our body’s endocrine system and can cause breakouts. If you find that your skin clears up after you cut out dairy, you may see if you can have a little without breakouts. Some people can drink small amounts of milk and stay acne-free. Different kinds of dairy may be an option. Dairy from other animals such as goats, or non-sweetened yogurt from cows may not exacerbate acne.
Hormonally-induced acne can be somewhat recognizable. It usually occurs along the chin and jaw line. It usually occurs with the beginning of the monthly cycle. Skin care professionals, such as estheticians, dermatologists and plastic surgeons, who carry BiON products can obtain additional specific information from the BiON office regarding acne and milk or dairy.