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[3 min read] Does milk consumption affect acne?

Does consuming milk increase a person’s risk for developing acne? Acne is a common skin condition in developed countries with western diets, and the effect of milk on on the skin condition has been highly controversial. To examine the association between milk consumption and acne risk, Chinese researchers conducted a meta-analysis of available data.

Researchers carried out a comprehensive database search and identified four cohort studies and nine case-control or cross‐sectional studies, including a total of 71,819 participants. They evaluated the pooled odds ratio (OR) with its 95% confidence interval (CI) using a random effects model. Subgroup analyses on acne severity, milk forms and milk intake levels were performed.

Compared with non‐consumers of milk, the pooled OR was 1.16 (95% CI 1.09–1.24) for overall milk consumers in all included studies, and 1.17 (95% CI 1.10–1.24) in cohort studies and 1.16 (95% CI 1.09–1.24) in case-control or cross‐sectional studies.

Subgroup analysis on milk forms determined a stronger association in skim milk consumers (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.13–1.37) than in low‐fat consumers (OR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.08–1.22) and full‐fat consumers (OR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.05–1.21). The pooled OR was greater for high intake level of milk (OR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.01–1.24) than medium intake level of milk (OR = 1.08, 95% CI 1.00–1.17).

A subset study of moderate‐to‐severe acne also found a positive association with milk consumption (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.01–1.37), while no statistically significant association was found between mild acne risk and milk consumption (OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.86–1.51).

The researchers concluded that there is evidence of a positive association between milk consumption and acne risk.

This research offers further information for physicians to consider when managing patients with acne.

Read more recent research on acne.


Dai, R., Hua, W., Chen, W., Xiong, L. and Li, L. (2018), The effect of milk consumption on acne: a meta‐analysis of observational studies. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. doi:10.1111/jdv.15204

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