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The Diet-Acne Connection

By: Elise May
Posted: September 3, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

A popular myth that diet has nothing to do with acne has perpetuated throughout the dermatology and the skin care community for approximately the past 40–50 years. This viewpoint seems to have stemmed from two poorly designed studies conducted in 1969 and 1971, one being the infamous “chocolate study,” which examined the effects of cacao on acne.1 There has since been much observation- and correlation-based research showing there may, in fact, very well be dietary connections to visible breakouts.

Affecting 80–90% of the U.S. population at some point in time, it may be said that acne is the most prevalent inflammatory skin disorder in existence.2 No longer exclusive to the teenage years, more and more adults are experiencing lingering breakouts, with some continuing to suffer from acne well into middle age.

Current diet-acne research

Following, three instances of more current research regarding the diet-acne connection will be explored, along with potential ways of discussing this information with your clients.

1. A positive correlation exists between consumption of milk and acne. A 2005 analysis titled “High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne3” explored the possible associations between dairy-related foods and the incidence of physician-diagnosed acne. In an analysis of more than 47,000 teens, a positive correlation was found between acne and the intake of milk. The study noted that there was no difference seen between full-fat versus low-fat milk intakes in relation to breakouts. In other words, regardless of the type of cow’s milk, acne was still seen prevalently in the participants’ skin.

A similar analysis study conducted in 2006 titled “Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls4” reviewed the affects of dairy on visible breakouts in young women from 9–15 years of age. Researchers concluded that for “... U.S. girls … we found that greater consumption of milk was associated with higher prevalence of acne.”

For a more in-depth look at treating acne, purchase the Acne online video lesson from Skin Inc. Video Education. Learn what you need to know to be successful in educating your clients about its causes and treatments, and in helping them see results from your treatments!