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July 16, 2006

BehindTheMedspeak: Acne revisited — Does it matter what you eat?


Yes, according to the latest scientific studies.

But the culprits are not those commonly held to be prime inciters of zits.

Anahad O'Connor summarized recent findings in his "Really?" feature in the July 11 New York Times; his piece follows.

    The Claim: Your Diet Can Bring on an Acne Outbreak

    THE FACTS: Despite what parents everywhere have long insisted, most people know by now that chocolate and greasy foods will not cause acne. But can other foods?

    According to dermatologists, what largely determines whether a person develops acne are genetics and hormonal fluctuations, hence the tendency for it to occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

    But recent studies have pointed to one or two exceptions, most notably dairy products. One of the largest studies to demonstrate this was published last year in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology by a team at Harvard.

    The researchers analyzed the habits and diets of nearly 50,000 people, looking especially at what they ate while in high school.

    Those who drank three or more cups of milk a day, the researchers found, were 22 percent more likely to experience severe acne compared with those who drank one serving a week or less.

    Skim milk had the greatest effect. Cream cheese and cottage cheese were also associated with outbreaks, while chocolate and greasy foods were not. The researchers attributed the effect to hormones in milk; other studies have had similar findings.

    Dr. Diane S. Berson, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, said foods that contain iodides, like shellfish and soy sauce, might also exacerbate acne. Iodides are thought to play a role in inflammation.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: Certain foods, in particular dairy products, have been shown to exacerbate acne.

July 16, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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"Skim milk had the greatest effect."

Glad I drink whole molk, then.

Posted by: John Anderson | Jul 18, 2006 3:48:47 AM

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