Researchers from Italy who looked at 500 women uncovered some factors related to the risk of acne after the age of 25 – including a low intake of fruits and vegetables, high stress levels and a family history of adult acne.
“We see that people who have a diet of junk food tend to break out more,” said Dr. Debra Jaliman, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Specifically, Jaliman said research has implicated foods with a high “glycemic index – which cause blood sugar to surge. Some high-GI foods include white bread and rice, chips and crackers, and sugary baked goods.
Similarity, Jaliman said, chronic stress takes a toll on overall health, and that could show up on the skin.
Over 80% of teenagers have bouts of acne. The good news is, most see their skin clear up after age 20, according to a team led by Dr. Luigi Naldi, of the Study Center of the Italian Group for Epidemiologic Research in Dermatology in Bergamo, Italy.
Still, anywhere from 20-40% of adults continue to have breakouts, the researchers added.
“Women tend to get adult acne more often than men,” Jaliman said. “It’s often due to changes in hormone levels and or hormonal imbalances.” But it’s not completely clear why some women continue to have acne, while others don’t.
The researchers found that women who ate fruits and vegetables, or fresh fish, on fewer than four days out of the week were more than twice as likely to have acne, compared to women who ate those foods more often.
The findings were published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Along with diet, women’s stress levels were linked to acne risk: Those who reported “high” or “very high” stress levels had a threefold greater risk of acne, compared to women who were less stressed.
Acne risk was also higher among women who’d never been pregnant or had hirsutism – male-pattern hair growth on the face or body. According the Jaliman, those latter findings may reflect the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a hormonal disorder that causes fertility problems, hirsutism and acne.
In fact, the study included women with a diagnosis of PCOS or other disorders that boost testosterone levels.
There is a very interesting thread here. The standard treatment for PCOS is the drug Metformin. This is a drug that more typically is used to treat type II diabetes. However, reducing blood sugar surges often reduces or reverses PCOS.
Clinically, I see the poor diet and high stress as having adverse effects on the endocrine system, including but not limited to insulin resistance.
My basic dietary recommendations are 5 servings of vegetables, 2 fruits and 3 servings of protein daily. The study standard of having a serving of these foods at least 4 days a week is extremely low and yet even at this minimal standard some benefits were noted.
The Bottom Line:
If you have adult acne, clean up your diet. Then have a qualified nutritionist evaluate your endocrine system. Some common additional signs of endocrine imbalance are poor sleeping habits, low energy, and low libido.
December 28, 2016 National Institute of Health