Milk: Why Are We Drinking It?

Fifty years ago, I remember my father, a pediatrician, telling a patient of his he needed to stop drinking his 2 quarts of milk per day if he wanted to get rid of his acne.  This was before farmers added growth hormone and lots of antibiotics to cow feed.  Thus, even then, doctors were aware that one cause of acne, especially in teenagers, is dairy products, especially milk.

I have been telling patients for years not to drink milk.  Two studies, one in teenage girls and another in teenage boys, confirm the connection to acne.  Of particular interest, skimmed milk consumption had a higher association with acne outbreak than regular milk.  Milk also had a higher association than many fatty foods like pizza or French fries.

There is speculation that the hormone content of milk is the source of this problem.  Whether it is or not, milk is not the answer to any deficiencies.  In the United States, we drink more milk than most other countries on earth.  Yet we have 3 times as much death from osteoporosis as the nearest country.  There is something terribly wrong with that picture.  This means drinking milk neither supports bones nor healthy skin.

Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, Berkey CS, Danby W, Rockett HH, Colditz GA, Willet WC, Homes MD. “Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls.” Dermatology Online Journal 2006; 12(4):1.

Adembamowo CA, Spiegelman D, Berkey CS, Danby FW, Rockett HH, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Holmes MD. “Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2008; 58(5): 787-793.

About Cathie Lippman, M.D.

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