Study finds family history, chocolate intake increases acne risk
Having two parents with a history of acne was associated with an eightfold higher risk of acne during adolescence and young adulthood, in a European study that surveyed people aged 15-24 years in seven European countries.
Researchers conducted an online population-based survey of 10,521 individuals aged 15-24 years in Belgium, Czech and Slovak republics, France, Italy, Poland, and Spain, with questions about the presence or absence of acne, sociodemographic characteristics, and lifestyle factors (such as diet, tobacco, cannabis or alcohol use, and family history). The results were published online on July 14.
The overall prevalence of self-reported acne was 57.8%, with the highest prevalence – 65.8% – found in the 15- to 17-years age group, and the lowest being 52.6% in the 21- to 24-years age group. Individuals who reported having one parent with a history of acne had a threefold greater incidence of acne compared to those without a history of paternal or maternal acne (P less than .0001 for both). Individuals whose parents both had acne had a nearly eightfold higher risk, which the authors noted was consistent with other studies showing a strong hereditary component of acne (J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14475).
Chocolate consumption was associated with a nearly 30% higher probability of having acne, depending on the level of consumption. However, there were no significant effects seen with consumption of other foods such as dairy products, pasta, ice cream, and fruit juice. Smoking tobacco was associated with about a 30% lower incidence of acne.
“Previous studies have demonstrated an association between high glycemic index foods and acne, although in our study, only chocolate, and not pasta or sweets, was independently associated in multivariate analysis,” wrote Pierre Wolkenstein, MD, of the department of dermatology, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, France, and his coauthors.
“The relationship between smoking and acne is not clear. Some observational studies have found that smoking increases the prevalence of acne, others have found a negative association, and some have found no relationship,” they added.
The study also showed significant variation in the incidence of acne across different countries. Using Spain, which had a median prevalence of acne, as a reference point, the researchers found that respondents in the Czech and Slovak republics had a 96% higher incidence of acne, while those in Poland had a 55% lower incidence.
The authors cautioned that their results were based on self-report, rather than a physician diagnosis, but they noted that since acne is so common, false positive or false negative reports were unlikely. “An association between self-reported acne and chocolate consumption, and an apparent inverse relationship with smoking, need to be confirmed by additional studies,” they noted.
The survey was funded and supported by Pierre Fabre Dermatologie. Five authors declared fees as members of the European Severe Acne Board, supported by Pierre Fabre Dermatologie, and one author is an employee of the company
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