Skim milk may lead to acne among teen girls

February 23, 2005 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Skim milk may lead to acne among teen girls

New research suggests that it may not be the chocolate and pizza that threatens many teenage girls' complexion. It turns out that skim milk may be the more likely culprit in teenage acne.  Researchers note that since milk is a biological fluid, it may have the effects on those who drink it beyond its nutrient contents.  This does not mean teenage girls, or boys for that matter, should stop drinking milk. Researchers still recommend a moderate consumption of the beverage.

To determine whether milk or other dairy products is associated with acne outbreaks, researchers analyzed survey responses from 47,335 women involved in the ongoing national Nurses Health Study II.  The women were asked about their diet in high school, particularly the frequency with which they consumed dairy foods and whether they usually drank whole milk, powdered milk, low-fat milk or skim/nonfat milk. They were also asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with "severe teenage acne."

Although most (61 percent) of the women drank whole milk as teenagers, 20 percent drank low-fat milk, 7 percent drank skim milk and 2 percent drank powdered milk. 

Researchers report that those who reported drinking more than three servings of any type of milk each day were 22 percent more likely to report having had severe acne than those who drank only one or fewer servings per week. Women who consumed two or more daily servings of skim milk, in particular, were 44 percent more likely to say that a physician had diagnosed them with severe acne during their teen years than those who drank one or fewer servings per week.

While whole milk and low-fat milk were not found to be as greatly associated with teenage acne, other dairy products, such as instant breakfast drinks, sherbet, cream cheese and cottage cheese were associated with acne. Women who ate one or more servings of such products per day as teenagers were up to 63 percent more likely to say they had severe acne during their teen years, the report indicates.

Since skim milk was more greatly associated with a history of teenage acne than whole milk, the acne was probably not due to the milk's fat content, the researchers speculate. They hypothesize that the association may instead be caused by the hormones in milk.

Until further research can be complete teens should continue to drink moderate amounts of milk. Researchers note that soymilk and rice milk can also be an appropriate choice for health-conscious teens.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.