is it a myth that certain foods will cause acne break outs such as chocolate or greasy fastfood?
Can Certain Foods Make You Break Out?
Doctor Answers 12
Many of my colleagues feel that diet does not affect...
Many of my colleagues feel that diet does not affect acne; well, science says differently. There are studies showing that natives of New Guinea and Paraguay had less acne with a diet rich in fiber and whole grains compared to Americans eating a diet rich in high glycemic index foods.
In addition, studies have shown that teenagers eating a diet rich in milk and dairy products (probably due to hormonal by-products) have a higher incidence of acne than those who don’t.
For years the answer was no. I can recall scene after scene wherein the mother would ask me this question. When I would say, no the teen would vigorously nod and tell him/her mom, I told you so or something to that effect.
However, now more and more evidence is surfacing that indeed acne is worsened by the typical high carb, high glycemic diet favored by teenaged Americans.
Even back when I as a resident, it was felt that seafood, especially shellfish with its high idodine content, was detrimental for acne. Add milk and milk products since often progesterone, an acnegenic hormone, was added to cow feed to enhance milk production.
Studies, later to be determined as poorly done, had shown that chocolate had no influence on acne ( E Mail if you are curious about those studies).
However, a few years ago an enterprising, or maybe vacation hungry, dermatololgist journeyed to an island i the South Pacific where the natives had perfect, blemish-free skin. He somehow coaxed them into consuming typical American fare.
Before he could say Pro-activ, the natives began to break out with typical acne lesions.
More recently Robyn Smith of Austrialia ( Journal of Clinical Nutrition) showed that a low glycemic glycemic diet made acne significantly better. Her subjects were males but subsequently but this was later proven to be stue for both subjects.
Even more recently, in fact two weeks ago, at the American Acadmey of Dermatology meeting in San Francisco, dermatologists from the University of Miami showed that 90% of the people who followed the South Beach diet had marked improvement in their acne.
So, I now tell my patients that diet can be very important in controlling the outbreaks of acne. Follwing the South Beach diet plan certainly is worth trying if your acne is stubborn an unresposive. It actually might not be a bad idea even if you are not afflicted with the teenage scourge.
Diet and Acne
This is a very controversial subject amongst my peers, but I think it is broadly agreed that you are noticing a substantial increase in acne after eating certain foods, whether it be chocolate or any other food, then it is in your best interest to try and cut down on those foods. Studies recently have begun to show that there may be a link between food and acne. Two such studies are the Harvard Milk study published in the JAAD showing a possible correlation with Milk products and Acne, with those drinking more than 2 glasses of Skim Milk having approximately a 44% increase in Acne and more than 3 glasses of any type of Milk having approximately a 22% increase in Acne. This included other dairy products such as cream cheese, sherbet, breakfast drinks, etc. The results are thought to be due to hormonal by-products and moderate consumption of milk is still recommended. Interestingly this study did not show any correlation between chocolate or french fries and acne. However, an older study from the Archives of Dermatology showed that populations eating traditional diets free of processed foods, like Inuits, Okinawians and Hunter/Gatherer types do not have Acne at any stage of their lives. These 2 studies lend credence to the believe currently that there may be an increased association between Acne and High Glycemic Diets as well as with Milk based products.
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The issue is under debate. Many clinicians feel that there are some links, but they vary from person to person. Go with your gut instinct.
Raffy Karamanoukian MD FACS
Foods that Cause Acne
Recent research has shown that what you eat may actually cause your acne to flare. Some studies have shown that dairy foods (particularly in teenage boys) can contribute to the formation of acne. Additionally, foods with a high glycemic index may also play a role in the development of acne. It is important to pay attention to your diet and see if you notice any patterns in your acne. I also recommend meeting with a dermatologist, to determine whether there may be other non-dietary causes of your acne that should be addressed.
Scientific evidence is mixed in this area. However, if you find that you develop acne after eating certain foods, such as chocolate, then you should eat them sparingly.
Also in rosacea, breakouts consisting of pimples, pustules and redness can occur with spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
Usually Food Is Not a Factor, But...
There is great information from the other dermatologists that weighed in. I agree that food is not a major factor. There is good evidence that high carbohydrate diets (High Glycemic) and caffeine can make acne worse in some patients.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.