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These Foods May Be Causing Your Adult Acne, New Study Finds

A new study reveals an association between poor dietary habits and acne flare-ups.

Experts routinely go back and forth on whether or not there's a connection between acne and dietary habits. However, a new study suggests that certain foods may be associated with flare-ups.

The study, which was published in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology, examined the results of 24-hour dietary surveys that 24,000 adults of all different ages—the average being 57—self-recorded. Each individual in the study either reported having acne currently, having had it in the past but not currently, or never having it all.

Among the participants who said they currently had acne, researchers were able to pinpoint a correlation between their respective diets. In general, those who had flare-ups reported that they had either eaten foods or beverages that were either high-in-fat, high-in-sugar, or a combination of the two. The results appeared to be telling as respondents who said they had acne currently were 54% more likely than those who had never had acne to consume a diet rich in either or both types of foods.

In addition, those with acne were 76% more likely to report drinking at least five servings of milk the day prior than those who said they didn't have a history of acne. Respondents with acne currently also were more than twice as likely to report drinking at least five servings of sugary drinks and eight times more likely to report consuming a complete meal of fatty and sugary foods.

While the results from this study sound promising, there are a few key takeaways worth considering before jumping to any concrete conclusions. First, the dietary survey was self-recorded, which means those who strongly believe diet plays a role in their skin health may have been susceptible to misreporting what they ate the day prior. Bias can severely skew the results of the study, after all.

Second, those who said they have acne currently may have an incorrect diagnosis, which could also lead to inaccurate conclusions. Third, other factors could be attributable to a person's acne that were not measured in this study such as pollution levels, for example.

Most importantly, a study such as this one can truly only identify an association, not causation. In other words, the study can reveal correlations between dietary habits and prevalence of acne reported by various people, however, it doesn't prove that those habits are the reason each individual has acne.

In short, removing high-fat and high-sugar foods and drinks from your diet may improve skin health, but it also may have no effect at all. And for more coverage on emerging studies on diet and health outcomes, sign up for our newsletter so you can stay informed.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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