Causes of Acne



In previous decades, it was widely believed by doctors that diet had little influence on the incidence of acne. However, many patients currently believe that their acne is brought about by factors related to their diet. The fact is that there is surprisingly little good scientific evidence to either confirm or deny that diet is related to the onset of acne. Whilst waiting for research to clarify this dichotomy, many dermatologists are of the opinion that acne sufferers should experiment with their daily diet in so much as limiting or even eliminating such foods which they find that either aggravate or increase the severity of their acne.


In a recent study in which 47,335 women responded to questions in a survey, a positive epidemiological link was found between acne and the consumption of any of the following: partially skimmed milk, instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese. The researchers came to the conclusion that the association may be the result of hormones (such as a number of sex hormones and bovine insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)) or even iodine, present in cow milk. However, IGF-1, which is converted into growth hormone in the body, is totally inactive when ingested orally. The only instance when IGF-1 is active in the body is when it is injected into the bloodstream. Although there is evidence of a link between milk and acne, the exact cause has yet to be identified.


It has long been accepted that there is no identifiable link between diets that contain high levels of refined sugar products and various processed foods, and acne. This supposition was based on earlier studies using, amongst other things, chocolate and Coca Cola, which were later found to be flawed in respect of methodology. The theory of low glycemic-load suggests that easily digested carbohydrate foods, such as soft drinks, sweets, and white bread, produce an excessive amount of glucose in the blood, known as hyperglycemia, which activates the production of insulin which, in turn, instigates the release of IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1. At high concentrations, it has been found that insulin can also bind to the IGF-1 receptor. Further, IGF-1 has been shown to have an effect on the pilosebaceous gland, and it is also able to give rise to hyperkeratosis (thickening of the outermost layer of the epidermis, or outer skin layer) and epidermal hyperplasia (an enlargement of the epidermis). The formation of Acne is normally the result. The consumption of sugar might also have an effect on the activity of androgens (a steroid hormone) by way of a decrease in sex hormone-binding globulin (is a glycoprotein that binds to sex hormones) concentration.

As verification of the validity of this hypothesis, a random controlled trial of a low glycemic-load diet was found to lessen the incidence of acne, to reduce weight, and lower androgen activity and the levels of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1. High levels of IGF-1 combined with only a mild resistance to insulin ultimately resulted in higher levels of insulin. Patients who had developed acne exhibited this characteristic. High levels of insulin and acne are also both features of polycystic ovarian syndrome (is a disorder that affects approximately 5% of all women – one of the main features is acne).

Acne – How To Succeed

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