Researchers Measure the Impact of Nutrition on Acne and Other Skin Conditions
There?s an old saying that asserts you are what you eat. According to researchers, this principle may actually have some truth to it when it comes to skin conditions.
There are many myths and superstitions floating around out there linking pimples, blemishes, acne, and other skin conditions to particular foods and eating patterns. For decades, most of these have been dismissed by scientists as nothing more than old wives? tales. Acne, the medical establishment has long asserted, is a skin disease that has little or nothing to do with diet.
However, over the last several years, there has been a steady stream of research results that seem to have poked some holes in the ironclad assumption that diet doesn?t aggravate acne. It turns out that certain kinds of foods do seem to be linked with skin problems, particularly among teenagers and young adults.
So what can you do to cut down on acne flare-ups? Which foods should you include and exclude from your diet to get the glowing, picture-perfect skin you?ve always dreamed of? This week, we?ll survey some recent studies that have shed some much-needed light on the link between nutrition and skin health.
Acne Linked to Modern Western Diet, Study Suggests
For decades, researchers have debated whether nutrition has an impact upon acne and other skin conditions. Although the majority opinion has long held that diet does not have a significant effect on acne, one group of researchers noticed that acne is very common among developed, Westernized populations, while it is very rare among populations with more traditional diets and lifestyles.
To test this hypothesis, the scientists studied two large groups of non-Western teenagers. The study participants were drawn from two traditional societies that have not yet adopted the highly processed diets typical of first-world nations. A total of over 1300 study participants were culled from the Kitavan islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Ache hunter-gatherers of Paraguay.
Remarkably, among all of the study participants, the scientists did not discover a single case of acne. Although isolated incidents of blemishes and skin eruptions were found, none of the study participants qualified for the diagnosis of acne that is used by Western medical practitioners. This finding led the researchers to conclude that Western diet staples, including starches and highly-processed foods, may play a central role in causing acne.
High-GI Foods May Exacerbate Acne
After preliminary studies that suggested a link between the highly-processed, starch-rich diets of Western teenagers and the widespread prevalence of acne among this population, more scientists began to focus on identifying the possible factors in this relationship. A study conducted by scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology focused specifically on the role of foods with a high glycemic index and their impact on acne.
The term ?glycemic index? refers to the degree to which a particular food raises the blood sugar after it is ingested. Foods such as potatoes, white bread, and sweets have a very high glycemic index, while foods such as meats and green vegetables have a low glycemic index. In general, the highly-processed foods that are a staple of the modern Western diet tend to rank higher on the GI index.
In the study, populations of young men diagnosed with acne were split into two groups. One group ate a normal, high-GI diet, while the other group ate high protein, lower-carb foods such as lean proteins, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, and whole grains. At the end of a 12-week period, the young men in the experimental group exhibited an average 51% improvement in their acne symptoms. In addition, these participants also enjoyed significant gains in self-esteem, emotional well-being, and social success.
Beans, Whole Grains Should be Staples of an Anti-Acne Diet
It used to be believed that overindulgence in chocolate was the chief culprit behind acne. Although a famous 1969 study disproved that myth, it took researchers decades to come up with a diet that could help prevent and even cure the dreaded skin disease.
A study recently conducted by British researchers found that study participants whose dietary staples were whole foods such as beans, vegetables, and grains experienced far fewer acne breakouts than the general population. The scientists also found that people who ate fast food less frequently were less prone to acne.
If you want to devise a dietary regimen that will work wonders for acne, blemishes, and other skin problems, consult with your doctor or a licensed nutritionist for a personalized plan. Don't forget to check back each week for more of the health science news you need!
Scientists Explore Causes, Cures of Acne and Related Skin Conditions
The term "acne" is often used to refer to common skin blemishes that nearly everybody develops from time to time. However, these two types of skin conditions are actually distinct from one another.
Whereas a simple "pimple" or "zit" is a temporary infection that occurs as the result of a pore being temporarily blocked by dirt, makeup, or another type of residue, acne is actually a disease of the skin that has little to do with a person's diet, cleanliness, grooming, or hygiene.
Although acne can afflict post-pubescent people in any age group, it is most commonly seen in adolescents and young adults. Researchers believe that the hormonal upheavals that take place during this transitional phase may be responsible for the high incidence of acne among this group, but the exact reasons remain unclear. In addition, the fact that adults also suffer from acne indicates that hormonal changes are not the only culprit behind the disease.
Indeed, much about the causes and risks for acne remains unclear. Researchers around the world are dedicating substantial investigative resources to the effort to better understand this skin disease that afflicts as many as 85% of all adolescents at some point. This week, we'll take a look at a few key findings culled from recent acne studies.
New Drug Represents Major Breakthrough in Acne Treatments
Over the past several decades, scientists have developed a number of acne treatments that have proven to be quite effective. The most well-known treatment is a drug known as Roaccutane, which can significantly reduce the amount of sebum in the skin, which is the substance that is believed to be largely responsible for acne flare-ups.
However, despite its efficacy as an acne treatment, Roaccutane is associated with a number of unpleasant side effects, ranging in seriousness from depression to birth defects. Although unsubstantiated, past studies have uncovered a possible link between Roaccutane and an increased risk of suicide among teenage acne patients.
For obvious reasons, the development of alternative treatments that offer the efficacy of Roaccutane without the deleterious side effects has long been a goal of acne researchers. The results of an ongoing study conducted by scientists at a private research firm in England seem to indicate that this long-held goal may soon be realized.
Although the new treatment remained unnamed at press time, the study has shown that the drug holds significant promise as a safe, effective acne treatment. The first release of the product will likely be in a topical cream form, and according to company officials, it represents an entirely new class of anti-acne treatments. Following further testing and government approval, the new product may be available for prescription use within two years.
Women More Likely to Develop Adult Acne, Study Shows
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham has indicated that women run a much greater risk of developing acne as adults than do their male counterparts. Although rates of adult acne declined significantly during each decade of life, women consistently reported higher rates of acne than men.
The largest differences between the two groups were seen in the 40-50 and 50-60 age groups. In these categories, women acne sufferers outnumbered males nearly 2 to 1.
The researchers indicated that hormonal differences between men and women may be responsible for the discrepancy in reported cases of acne. However, they cautioned that further research would be needed in order to pinpoint the source of the differences between male and female acne sufferers with better accuracy.
Researchers Show that Stress Does Impact Acne
The debate over the role of stress in acne has raged for decades in the medical community. The conventional wisdom has long held that stress can cause acne, while scientists have long countered that stress does not play a precipitating role in the skin disease.
This decades-long controversy may finally be put to rest with the release of the results of a study conducted by scientists at the University of Miami?s Miller School of Medicine. According to the investigation, stress doesn't cause acne -- but it can worsen and aggravate the skin condition.
Although more research will be needed to further explain the role of stress in acne, the scientists suggested that patients should incorporate stress-relief measures such as yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises into their skin-care routine.
If you're struggling with acne, talk to your doctor to find out how you can use the latest research to fine-tune your treatment regimen. And don't forget to check back each week for more of the health science news you need!
New Studies Probe Causes, Cures for Acne
For many, adolescence is a difficult period of emotional turbulence, identity crisis, and rapid physical development. The hormonal shifts that mark the onset of young adulthood bring about not only a more mature physique, but also an array of other welcome -- and not-so-welcome -- changes.
One of the most dreaded physical changes associated with adolescence is the skin condition known as acne. Although virtually every teenager experiences blemish outbreaks from time to time, a diagnosis of acne signals a more serious disorder. The blemishes associated with acne often resemble a rash or hives spread over the cheeks and forehead. In severe cases, other areas of the body, such as the back, may be affected by acne, as well.
The distress caused by persistent cases of adolescent acne is significant. Serious, extended cases of acne can leave lasting physical damage and scar tissue on the affected tissue, and the emotional scars of feeling unattractive during a critical period of maturity and development can also last a lifetime. Researchers around the world are hard at work exploring the causes of acne and developing possible cures. This week, we'll take a look at some of the recent developments in acne research.
Scientists Explore Connection Between Stress and Acne
Although many acne sufferers have long believed that there is a connection between stressful life circumstances and increased acne outbreak, these suspicions were not proven with scientific researchers. However, a recent study conducted by scientists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine seems to indicate that there is, indeed, a statistical link between stress and acne severity.
The study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken, was designed to determine whether adolescents undergoing stressful life circumstances would also show worsened acne symptoms. The participants in the study were a group of nearly 100 Singaporean teenagers with previous medical diagnoses of acne. The North Carolina researchers elected to conduct the study in Singapore because of that country's consistent year-round temperatures and humidity levels.
According to the study's findings, the adolescents experienced worsened acne symptoms in the weeks leading up to mid-term exams. Conversely, the lowest reported period of acne outbreaks was in the period months after the exams, when academic stress was presumed to be at a low point.
The researchers hypothesized that the connection between stressful life circumstances and acne severity may be related to inflammation. Acne is categorized by researchers as an inflammatory disease, and high stress levels have long been linked to increased inflammation. Although specific treatment guidelines related to stress control for acne sufferers have not yet been issued, the researchers noted that trying to reduce periods of intense stress may lessen symptoms for some adolescents with the disorder.
Researchers Develop New Hybrid Technique for Treating Acne
Scientists working at the Loma Linda University Medical School have begun work on a new advanced treatment that may hold significant promise for acne sufferers. The treatment combines two relatively new techniques into a single method that is geared to attack multiple acne symptoms.
The new hybrid technique is referred to as photopneumatic therapy. It combines sessions of exposure to pulses of a special light source, alternated with sessions of skin suction. The light treatment therapy is used to kill the types of bacteria known to cause and exacerbate acne symptoms. The suction therapy, which is performed with a specialized vacuum device, is used to clean the skin, clear the pores, and bring facial oils closer to the surface.
The new therapy technique that combines both light and suction was recently approved for use by the FDA. However, it has not yet attained widespread popularity, and at the current juncture, only a few dermatologists in the United States have adopted it as a primary form of acne treatment. Still, scientists researching the method believe that it holds great promise for acne sufferers.
Germs Found to Spread Drug-Resistant Strain of Acne
Although it has long been known that certain types of bacteria contribute to and worsen acne, researchers had not considered the possibility that acne could be considered contagious in the traditional sense of the term.
However, the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden seem to indicate that a germ-based model of acne's spread may exist. The researchers found that a particularly virulent form of drug-resistant acne appeared to be spread among family members in a number of cases. Even family members who did not develop visible acne could carry and spread the acne germs.
The researchers suggested that contagion should be further explored in future acne research, and that treatment methods should take the possibility of acne spread within family groups or shared households into consideration.
Check with your doctor to develop the best treatment plan for your acne, and check back each week for more health science news that matters.
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