Teen Acne and Dairy: What's Really Going On?


Dermatologists generally agree that milk and dairy products can contribute to teenage acne, but until recently the exact cause of the breakouts has been unclear. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology linked teen pimples to the hormones and “bioactive molecules” found in dairy, but new research may have found the true culprit: iodine.

Harvey Arbesman, a dermatologist at the University at Buffalo, has isolated the iodine found in milk as the true cause of acne. His findings were published in the December issue of the Journal. The news isn't that iodine is connected to skin problems, but that many countries, including the U.S. continue to produce milk with high levels of the element.

“Farmers give their cows iodine-fortified feed to prevent infection,” Arbesman noted in a University press release. “And they use sanitizing iodine solutions on their cows’ udders and milking equipment. Consequently, there is lot of iodine in dairy products. For that reason, I’ve advised my acne patients for years to decrease their dairy intake.”

It’s now up to dermatologists to determine if it is the iodine in milk that has always caused acne or if it’ a combination of iodine and dairy hormones. Either way, Arbesman hopes the dairy industry will consider the iodine issue as it continues to feed their cows and cleanse the cows’ udders.


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