Food Friday: Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?

(another) Friday Night's in America

Does whey protein cause acne? A new study shows it might.

This past August, Dr. Nancy Silverberg, a New York dermatologist, published a study in the journal Cutis that suggests whey protein supplements may exacerbate acne in adolescent males.

Some relatively recent studies show that whey is potentially comedogenic (pore-clogging) in certain teenage males. Intrigued by these studies, Dr. Silverberg looked at five male adolescent patients who were developing globular acne who were also consuming whey supplements to gain weight. When the boys stopped the supplements their acne was much more responsive to treatments. One young man who had two courses of isotrentinoin (Accutane), didn’t see an improvement in his acne until he stopped taking whey supplements during the second round.

Dr. Silverberg thinks that doctors should begin asking both male and female teenage patients who are looking to gain weight if they’re taking whey supplements and to suggest that discontinuation may help improve their acne.

Moving forward, she plans to investigate how whey protein induces acne flares by looking at both specific age groups and the amount of whey protein used. Since many patients were resistant to stopping whey protein supplements, she’s also interested in exploring if there is some addictive property.

Click here to read an annotated version of Dr. Silverberg’s article and here to listen to Dr. Silverberg’s audiocast.

Drawbacks: Only 5 patients studies. More research and studies needed.

Has your acne worsened on whey?

Photo credit: FCC, jdanvers

2 thoughts on “Food Friday: Does Whey Protein Cause Acne?”

  1. I (speaking not as any approximation of a doctor but someone with lots of trial and error experience) find dairy products in general to be pretty questionable. There’s loads of information on their hard to digest, inflammatory components like lactose and casein. (The China Study seems to be a pretty popular one) There are people who would also go off about pasteurization and homogenization. I’m not vegan anymore (in truth, I think I was just looking for ways to micromanage my life!) but I still don’t eat dairy. When I do, it does seem to show up on my face. Having taken two courses of accutane myself, I often wonder if I could’ve saved myself the trouble of at least that second stint with some dietary changes. Besides, plenty of cleaner protein supplements out there. Anyway, thanks fer the blog, doc!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Matt. I’m glad you found relief and are feeling and looking healthier.

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