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STUDY: Study supports belief that diet is to blame for adolescent acne.
JOURNAL: Cordain, L. et al. Acne vulgaris: a disease of western civilization. Archives of Dermatology, 138, 123 - 321, (2002).
ABSTRACT: US scientists are throwing a lifeline to acne-ridden adolescents. A controversial new study suggests that avoiding a sugary Western diet could help to treat the teenage scourge.
COMMENTARY: Anecdotal evidence has long linked chocolate and chips to pubescent spots, but scientists have never proved the connection. Then anthropologist Kim Hill at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque stumbled on a remote community in Paraguay, who eat manioc (cassava), peanuts and meat. "I've travelled to remote tribes all over South America and I've never seen acne," Hill says. Teenagers in a second community of remote islanders, in Papua New Guinea, are also spotless, it turns out.
Genetics cannot explain the perfect skin of the two unrelated groups, maintains team leader Loren Cordain of Colorado State University. He blames today's refined foods, such as bread, rice and cakes, for the pimples suffered by 95% of westernized teenagers."The theory makes sense," comments acne expert Alan Shalita of State University of New York.
Yet it flies in the face of 1970s and 1980s studies that failed to find a link between diet and spots. Based on these, most dermatologists have "pooh-poohed" the idea, says Shalita.Skin researcher Richard Bojar of the University of Leeds, UK remains unconvinced. The non-westernised groups might also get more beneficial sun or exercise, he points out. "There's not much data and a lot of hypothesis," he says. "They need to go on and test it."