Sunday, February 3, 2008

breakthrough in skin

i was going to write about my hostfam, my last duke interviewee, and the presidential primaries, but here is more breaking news.

as usual, i was wikipedia-ing stuff that i have questions about, and although i had been reading the acne page for several months, today a new line caught my eye. wiki article on acne

A recent study, based on a survey of 47,335 women, did find a positive epidemiological association between acne and consumption of partially skimmed milk, instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese.[11] The researchers hypothesize that the association may be caused by hormones (such as several sex hormones and bovine IGF-I) present in cow milk. Though there is evidence of an association between milk and acne, the exact cause is unclear. Most dermatologists are awaiting confirmatory research linking diet and acne but some support the idea that acne sufferers should experiment with their diets, and refrain from consuming such fare if they find such food affects the severity of their acne.[12]

MILK, the HORMONES in MILK could possibly be a link to acne. this got me started on the thinking. i had a minor problem with pimples during orientation, but let's chalk that up to stress. most mornings i drank banana milk or some other not-really skim milk drink. then i got to my homestay and my skin was ok, imo was making me fresh strawberry juice every morning. then about a month in i started drinking skim milk every morning (as i was used to in america) bc i got comfortable enough to ask hostfam to buy me skim milk for my breakfast beverage of choice. THEN my skin started going out of control. i had thought the heat, humidity, new water source, stress, etc. was the main culprit.

a few weeks ago, i spent almost a week in a hostel in seoul where i did NOT have access to my daily milk. my skin cleared up a bit during that week. i had thought maybe it was because i had been eating more meat (i don't know it made sense: meat -> more oil -> skin more oily less dry -> less overproduction of sebum). but i got back home and started up the milk again and voila more breakouts.

so my new experiment is to cut the skim milk out of my diet. now, you may ask, i've been drinking skim milk every day (at LEAST one tall glass a day) since i can't even remember. why the sudden skin problems? well, first of all, milk is usually a pretty local product, so one theory is that i had gotten used to digesting the particular hormones in my NJ milk brand. and in high school my family went on an organic kick and i only drank organic skim milk (which supposedly wouldn't have these extra pregnanty hormones) THEN once i went to college, the generic skim milk upset my stomach so i continued drinking only organic skim milk. still no skin problems.

come to korea, start drinking local milk, the only organic option is whole milk and i feel badly asking hostfam to shell out double for milk that i don't particularly like drinking so i suck it up and stick with the non-organic skim milk. my stomach/GI tract is not used to this new type of milk and mix of hormones and whatnot and VOILA skin problems. not to mention that i LOVE dairy and that's one of the few things that i eat more of here than i did at home bc it pretty substitutes for any other snacks i regularly ate. no cookies/chips/other fun snack foods so i eat cheese, yogurt, milk a lot more often anytime i get a munchie craving.

i'm pretty sure my family (actual blood family) has already bought my skim milk for the week i'll spend with them for the lunar new year, but i told imo about my research and new theory tonight at dinner, so she agrees that she won't buy me any more dairy for a while so i can test this possible cause of skin problems. so starting in a week from now, i'll go dairy free and report back. (i know, all this obsession with my skin gets annoying, but it's been a really distracting part of my life in korea, so this blog accurately reflects my thoughts and worries).

a few more resources:
Scientific article in journal
Got Milk? Got Acne?
The Milk Acne Connection

p.s. i read the wiki article on "Milk" and i had never really thought about it but here's another excerpt:
"Humans are an exception in the natural world for consuming milk past infancy. Even those humans who drink milk after eating solid foods are uncommon within the whole of humanity."
so apparently, yes i am somewhat of an abnormality in the drinking milk past childhoodness (which may explain why i've experienced this problem whereas few if any of my colleagues have had the same lasting skin problems past initial stress pimples).

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