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Can Cheese Cause Acne?


In 2005, the results of a very extensive Harvard survey on the topic of teenage acne were reported.(1) Based on the responses of 47,355 women nationwide, two types of cheese were found to be linked to a higher rate of acne in a woman’s youth: cream cheese and cottage cheese. However, neither of these cheeses came close to the acne harm abetted by skim milk.

Food Journaling

Nevertheless, the overall data linking dairy foods to acne remains inconclusive. As a result, some dieticians recommend that a food journal be kept by those who suspect a particular item is causing the condition.(2) This can be the quickest and most reliable method by which an individual, with their own set of allergies, pigmentation, and metabolic behaviors, can determine a causal link between their deit and acne outbreaks.

The three main biological factors that cause acne are an overproduction of sebum (oil), an excess of dead skin cells, and bacteria buildup.(3) In each one of these cases, if the surfeit amount clogs up a hair follicle, the follicle becomes plugged.

Acne really comes down to sebum, secreted by the sebaceous glands that are connected to each follicle. When unobstructed, the sebum travels up the follicle to the surface of the skin, to lubricate both the follicle and skin. Along with foods, possibly, hormones, heredity, and medications can all play a role in the likelihood of acne.

Common Sense Prevention

Along with adjusting dietary intake, there are many other logical ways to decrease the likelihood of acne occurrences.(4) For women, much of the common sense prevention basics revolve around make-up. By avoiding a heavy foundation products or choosing powder over cream cosmetics, users can diminish the chances their their hair follicle pores will get clogged. Most women remove their make-up before going to bed, but for those who fail to do this, either by oversight or late night lifestyle, this can also lead to an increased chance of an acne outbreak. Cleaning cosmetic brushes regularly is also strongly recommended.



(1) Adebamowo, CA, D Spiegelman , FW Danby, AL Frazier, WC Willett, and MD Holmes. “High School Dietary Intake and Teenage Acne.” The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology2 (2005): 207-214. Print

(2) – “Dieticians Dish: How to Feed Your Skin,” July 5, 2011, Retrieved July 26, 2011 from

(3) Mayo Clinic – Acne: Causes, Retrieved July 26, 2011 from

(4) Mayo Clinic: Acne: Prevention, Retrieved July 26, 2011 from

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