Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. About 85% of people in the Western world experience acne during their teenage years, but it can occur at any age. Acne is more than just pimples and it can leave permanent scars. In many people, acne can seriously affect quality of life, causing low self-esteem, withdrawal from social situations, anxiety, and depression.1
There are four major components of acne.2
- Excessive production of oil by the skin
- Skin cells dividing excessively or “hyperproliferation”
How Pimples Form
A pimple or lesion forms when a pore in the skin begins to clog with old, dead skin cells. Usually these cells are simply shed from the surface of the skin, but if too much oil is being produced, the dead cells can stick together and become trapped inside the pore. Bacteria also play a role; they can grow and multiply inside the pore, resulting in an inflammatory response.1
The Influence of Dairy and High Glycemic Load Foods on Hormones and Acne
Scientific studies have demonstrated that the diet is very important, because what we eat can affect the hormones that contribute to the oil production, hyperproliferation, and inflammation that cause acne. The two acne-promoting dietary factors that have been most extensively studied are dairy products and high glycemic load foods. These factors influence hormonal and inflammatory factors increasing acne prevalence and severity.3-4 Hormonal influences that raise insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels are key.5 Elevated IGF-1 levels lead to changes in gene expression that cause inflammation, hormonal changes, increased oil production, and development of acne lesions. Of important concern is that the same hormonal environment of high IGF-1 and high insulin, also promotes breast and prostate cancer, so it is important to maintain a diet that is hormonally favorable all through life.