If you’ve got acne, dairy is the devil

Dairy products increase levels of the hormone insulin, which elevates the inflammation that contributes to acne. Dairy is particularly horrible for acne sufferers who live in the United States, where since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves of using artificial recombinant bovine growth hormones (rBGH) in dairy cows to increase milk production. Recombinant growth hormones have been banned from use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and all European Union countries.

Here’s a shortlist of the variety of hormones (60-plus, to be exact) in your average glass of milk—found even in organic, raw and bovine growth-hormone-free milk:
•5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-one, 20α- and 20β-dihydroprogesterone (from progesterone)
•Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate acyl ester
•Insulin like growth factors 1 and 2 (IGF-1 and IGF-2)
•Progesterone (from pregnenolone)

The study “Dietary intervention in acne: Attenuation of increased mTORC1 signaling promoted by Western diet” published in the January 2012 issue of Dermato Endocrinology explains the insulin-dairy connection very well (and you can read the entire research article at no cost). “Metabolic signals of Western diet are sensed by the nutrient-sensitive kinase, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which integrates signals of cellular energy, growth factors (insulin, IGF-1) and protein-derived signals, predominantly leucine, provided in high amounts by milk proteins and meat.”

According to one study, dairy does not only contribute to acne breakouts, but also to larger health issues, such as obesity and cancer. “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,” researchers wrote.

In the same study, researchers wagged their fingers at sloppy dermatologists who aren’t explaining the dairy-acne connection to their patients: “The dermatologist bears a tremendous responsibility for his young acne patients who should be advised to modify their dietary habits in order to reduce activating stimuli of mTORC1, not only to improve acne but to prevent the harmful and expensive march to other mTORC1-related chronic diseases later in life.”

So what can people do to get the calcium they need if they do consume dairy? No worries there. For the past few decades, milk has been marketed as a source of calcium—it’s not the greatest source for the mineral. “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets,” said Amy Lanou, nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.” If you have time to explore the “Dairy is Good for You” myth, read Collective Evolution’s Evidence Shows Dairy is Cause for Many Health Related Problems.

You can get greater sources of calcium from eating leafy vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens bok choy and collard greens. And if you really love drinking milk, try to substitute dairy with unsweetened almond or rice milk.