We’ve all heard the claims that eating sugary foods such as chocolate can cause acne breakouts. Well, according to a collection of studies focused on the relationship between specific foods and acne, this may not exactly be the case…
The research gathered from these studies presents strong data that dairy products and high glycemic foods play a distinct role in development and severity of acne.
Acne vulgaris is a common condition that affects 80–90 percent of adolescents.1 Although teenagers and young adults typically bear the brunt of this condition, older adults may also be affected by acne.
In a large case-control study2 that evaluated the association between milk and acne in the adolescent diets of more than 47,000 girls, some surprising data was revealed. Those with the highest level of total milk intake (over 3 servings per day) reported having acne more frequently, when compared with individuals with the lowest level of intake (less than 1 serving per week). Even more interesting, the strongest association (a 44% increase) was found for skim milk intake, suggesting fat content was not the determining factor for acne risk. This helped researchers hypothesize that the hormones found in milk played a stronger role in the development of acne during the adolescent years.
A separate study from 2005 showed that components of milk have insulin-stimulating abilities,3 which drives insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which in turn, increases testosterone levels and decreases the production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). An additional study revealed a positive correlation between levels of IGF-1 and acne.4
High Glycemic Foods
A number of studies have been able to provide supporting evidence that high glycemic diets are linked to cases of acne. In New Guinea and Paraguay, two cross sectional studies5 observed separate populations that maintain a low-fat and low-glycemic-index-diet, and found no cases of acne in either of these groups. This led researchers to speculate that this type of diet could help reduce the chances of developing acne.
In a different study, authors of a randomized controlled trial6 examined the effect of low-glycemic-load diets on acne risk and insulin sensitivity on a group of 43 males (age 15–25) suffering from acne. Individuals who participated in the low-glycemic-load diet were found to have fewer acne lesions, when compared with the control group. In addition, the low-glycemic-load diet group’s weight decreased, and insulin sensitivity and SHBG levels increased.7 These findings support the role of low-glycemic-load diets in influencing hormonal levels, as well as improving insulin levels and acne.8
Chocolate and Acne
If you’re a chocolate lover and concerned about acne, don’t fret, recent studies have helped dispel the myths about chocolate causing acne. In a crossover trial examining the effect of chocolate intake on acne,9 a group of 65 individuals ate 112 grams of dairy-free, cocoa-enriched chocolate daily for 4 months. The same group was then given chocolate that wasn’t enriched with cocoa, and observed for an additional 4 months. Researchers were able to conclude that there were no significant differences in the prevalence of acne between both of the groups.
While the results of this study may make chocolate lovers rejoice, it’s important to remember that many chocolate products contain dairy products and should be eaten in moderation. It’s also important to keep in mind that eating a balanced diet is the key to maintaining a healthy body and clear skin. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and stay sufficiently hydrated by drinking your 8 glasses of water a day.
For more information, read the full article on skintherapyletter.com:https://www.skintherapyletter.com/2010/15.3/1.html
 Adebamowo CA, Spiegelman D, Danby FW, et al. High school dietary dairy intake and teenage acne. J Am Acad Dermatol 52(2):207-14 (2005 Feb).
 Hoyt G, Hickey MS, Cordain L. Dissociation of the glycaemic and insulinaemic responses to whole and skimmed milk. Br J Nutr 93(2):175-7 (2005 Feb).
Kaymak Y, Adisen E, Ilter N, et al. Dietary glycemic index and glucose, insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3, and leptin levels in patients with acne. J Am Acad atol 57(5):819-23 (2007 Nov). Cordain L, Lindeberg S, Hurtado M, et al. Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization. Arch Dermatol 138(12):1584-90 (2002 Dec).
 Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, et al. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 86(1):107-15 (2007 Jul).
 Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, et al. The effect of a high- protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: a randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 57(2):247-56 (2007 Aug).
 Smith RN, Braue A, Varigos GA, et al. The effect of a low glycemic load diet on acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglycerides. J Dermatol Sci 50(1):41-52 (2008 Apr).
 Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, et al. The effect of a high- protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: a randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 57(2):247-56 (2007 Aug). Smith RN, Braue A, Varigos GA, et al. The effect of a low glycemic load diet on acne vulgaris and the fatty acid composition of skin surface triglycerides. J Dermatol Sci 50(1):41-52 (2008 Apr). Zouboulis CC. Is acne vulgaris a genuine inflammatory disease? Dermatology 203(4):277-9 (2001).
 Grant JD, Anderson PC. Chocolate as a Cause of Acne: a Dissenting View. Mo Med 62:459-60 (1965 Jun).