A cross-sectional study of 64 adults in New York City with and without moderate/severe acne found a significant association between dietary carbohydrate consumption and acne, which the authors said merited further study.
“Epidemiologic studies typically report a low incidence of acne in non-developed nations, suggesting that environmental factors, such as diet, can play a role in acne pathogenesis,” wrote Jennifer Burris, PhD, of the department of nutrition and food studies, at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, and her coauthors.
The study participants either had no acne (32) or had moderate or severe acne (32); those with mild or shorter-term acne (less than 6 months) were excluded. They made a 5-day food record and took a questionnaire, and had blood drawn and anthropometric measurements taken during two visits.
Moderate and severe acne was associated with significantly greater total carbohydrate consumption (P = .003), available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus dietary fiber), percent energy from carbohydrate, and glycemic load (all P less than .001), compared with those who did not have acne.
The patients with moderate or severe acne also had greater insulin and insulin growth factor–1 concentrations, and lower sex hormone–binding globulin concentrations, (P = .002, .009, and .015, respectively); and greater insulin resistance (P = .001), compared with those who did not have acne.
“Although the results from our study cannot determine causation, these preliminary results suggest a relationship between dietary [glycemic load] and acne,” Dr. Burris and her coauthors wrote. “In addition to replicating our findings, future research is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms linking diet and acne and to evaluate the effectiveness of [medical nutrition therapy] on biological factors associated with acne and conceivably acne-specific quality of life,” they added (J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Jun 9.).