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why do we need pam?

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I have my use with -pam and I don't have pam installed. I have no idea why I would need so I don't have it. But suddenly portage insisting I get it.

[ebuild  N     ] sys-libs/pam-1.3.0-r2::core-kit  USE="cracklib filecaps nls pie -audit -berkdb -debug -nis (-selinux) {-test} -vim-syntax" ABI_X86="(64) -32 (-x32)" 1,754 KiB
[ebuild  N     ] sys-auth/pambase-20150213-r3::core-kit  USE="cracklib nullok sha512 -consolekit -debug -elogind -gnome-keyring -minimal -mktemp -pam_krb5 -pam_ssh -passwdqc -securetty (-selinux) -systemd" 4 KiB


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So the question would be:

What takes preference:  The entry in the profile or the one in make.conf?

To me it seems that for packages the setting in make.conf is the one. But for update world the one in the profile, thus wanting to add pam to the system, although no package needs it.

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