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Why Cow's Milk is Causing Your Acne

January 03, 2013

Why Cow's Milk is Causing Your Acne

Milk has been marketed as one of the healthiest foods on Earth. With so many ads of celebrities wearing milk moustaches recommending you get your glass a day, it’s hard to hear the truth underneath it all – that milk might not actually be that good for you.

Milk has hormones that increase oil production and aggravate skin. Even organic milk. Cow’s milk was made for calves, and it is designed to grow a newborn 80 lbs calf to an adult cow weighing 700-1,000 lbs. WOW, that is way to many nutrients for any human to be intaking. Anytime you drink milk, you’re also drinking the growth hormones intended to sprout a calf to its future adult self. You can imagine this might freak your body out a bit. There is no such thing as hormone-free milk because organic here just means there aren’t any additional injected hormones in your milk, but all the cows’ natural hormones still exist. Here’s a short list of the 60+ hormones in your average glass of milk – even the organic, raw, and bovine growth hormone free milk (source: Dr. Mark Hyman):

•progesterone (from pregnenolone)
•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)

Think your acne is hormonal? That doesn’t just have to do with your cycle – diet plays a strong role in influencing hormonal activity in the body too.

Milk is an inflammatory food that increases redness and breakouts in skin. Milk is intended for infants. Made by their mother, it provides all the nutrients and growth hormones needed during this crucial period of life. But past the age of 2 our lactase production (which breaks down milk sugar) is drastically reduced, showing that biologically we were meant to stop drinking breast milk post-weaning. Because our body wasn’t intended to drink the milk past infancy and definitely not that of another animal, drinking it elicits an inflammatory reaction in the body. Acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema are inflammatory skin conditions – so milk is not their friend.

Studies show an increase in milk consumption is linked to a higher prevalence of acne. A 1999 study conducted by the Dermatology Online Journal stated ”…we found that greater consumption of milk was associated with higher prevalence of acne,” and another study from 2007 conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology states, ”we found a positive association between intake of skim milk and acne. This finding suggests that skim milk contains hormonal constituents… in sufficient quantities to have biological effects in consumers.”

Some may be concerned about where they will get their calcium from, but milk may not be such a great source of that after all either. Milk is acidic in the body and in order to regain its alkaline state, the body neutralizes such foods by taking minerals from our bones – including calcium. It’s also interesting to know that ”world health statistics show that osteoporosis is most common in exactly those countries where dairy products are consumed in the largest quantities – the United States, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom” (source: FoodMatters). Yikes, that doesn’t do a body good. Want calcium? You can get plenty by eating the same thing other animals eat – a diet rich in greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Want clearer skin? Find a milk alternative! Unsweetened almond milk, hemp milk, and coconut milk are all great alternatives to cow’s milk. They’re fortified with many of the same vitamins and minerals. Soy milk is an allergen for some, but still an improvement. With so many options out there, you’re sure to find one that is right for you and your skin!


Elise May, CN + LE, is the owner and practitioner behind SKINutritious. She has helped over 1,000 clients clear acne with detoxing treatments, clear skin coaching, and holistic skincare. 

Work with Elise. Book online here.