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The link between diet and acne

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During my teenage years I was told often by my parents (or some “know-it-all” adult) not to eat chocolate and sugary and fatty foods otherwise I would get spots. But when I asked my GP about this he said I could eat whatever I wanted because diet does not determine the severity of my acne.

But it seems now there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The authors of the study conducted literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinct periods: early history, the period during the rise of the diet-acne myth and recent years.

They concluded that a high glycaemic index/glycaemic load diet and frequent consumption of dairy products are the leading factors that establish a link between diet and acne.

The authors also highlighted that research results from studies conducted over the past 10 years do not demonstrate that certain diets cause acne. However, they may influence or aggravate it.

It is thought that foods with a high glycaemic index might have a direct effect on the severity of acne because hormonal fluctuations are triggered. Dairy products, in particular milk, are thought to aggravate acne because of the hormones they contain.

The authors recommend that dermatologists and registered dietitians work together to design and conduct quality research into this area. They emphasised that the medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne.

According to Jennifer Burris, one of the research authors, studies carried out from the 1960s onwards have disassociated diet from the development of acne because two important studies are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne. So this may explain why my then GP told me I could eat whatever I want (much to my parents’ annoyance).

Although most pharmacists may not be experts in “acne-free” diets, we are certainly in a position to provide advice on eating a balanced diet, which would be a good place to start for patients with an acne problem.

 

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