Recent studies on Diet and Acne

Acne is not an issue for me, but it is for many. Also, the acne story is part of a bigger, fascinating story on the relationship between diet and health, more specifically, the modern western diet and “the Paleolithic diet”.

The following is from a recent newsletter from Prof Cordain and colleagues. For more, go to ‘the PaleoDiet website’.

“Recent studies on Diet and Acne

In May of 2006, Harvard researchers published a study titled Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. That study included 6,094 girls, aged 9-15 years, who reported dietary intake on up to three food frequency questionnaires for three years. The researchers found a positive association between intake of milk and acne.

Now just one year later, a new study is now about to be published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. In this study, 43 male patients completed a 12-week dietary intervention study, eating a “low glycemic load” diet, also higher in protein. Dramatic before and after pictures illustrate the conclusions of the study suggesting that nutrition-related factors do play a role in acne pathogenesis.

Not only was total acne lesion count significantly reduced, but circulating androgen levels were reduced and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) was increased. As you know from page 41 of The Dietary Cure for Acne, increased androgen levels directly stimulate overproduction of oil from the sebaceous gland.

IBFBP-1 binds IGF-1, making it less available, a good thing. On page 49 we discuss how increased IGF-1 may stimulate overproduction of skin cells, ultimately leading to pore blockage.

So this is the first modern study to show that diet underlies acne. The participants in the above study ate a diet with a higher protein level and a lower glycemic load, and showed significant improvement. They did however eat dairy, pasta, and other foods that likely had a negative effect. It will be very interesting to see how these results may improve in future studies that incorporate all of the recommendations from The Dietary Cure for Acne.

Dietary Implications for the Development of Acne: A Shifting Paradigm

The dermatology textbooks still teach that diet and acne are unrelated, but that myth will soon be dissolving. Dr. Cordain recently wrote a paper in U.S. Dermatology Review (available at http://www.ThePaleoDiet.com/published_research/), Dietary Implications for the Development of Acne: A Shifting Paradigm, which discusses the recent studies and new findings.”


The dermatology textbooks still teach that diet and acne are unrelated, but that myth will soon be dissolving. Dr. Cordain recently wrote a paper in U.S. Dermatology Review (available at http://www.ThePaleoDiet.com/published_research/), Dietary Implications for the Development of Acne: A Shifting Paradigm, which discusses the recent studies and new findings.

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