Q: Does chocolate really cause acne? My teenagers love the stuff -- and they have pretty bad breakouts.
A: Sorry, Mom and Dad. Your dire warnings about Snickers bars are fruitless, because the answer is FALSE. Chocolate has no link to acne (nor do other frequently blamed foods, such as pizza and potato chips).
You're on the go, and so is your need for health information. This year, the top search terms on WebMD's mobile site showed you had symptoms on your mind, and you wanted answers.
Here are WebMD's top search terms from its mobile site in 2011:
Ringworm: Maybe you saw that telltale ring on your skin and wondered if it was ringworm. What does it look like, and how do you get it? (Hint: It's not from a worm.)
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"There was a famous experiment done many years ago at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Albert Kligman," says Irwin Braverman, MD, professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
Kligman gave teens with acne real chocolate bars, and others chocolate-free bars that tasted like chocolate. Neither group knew which candy bars were fake. "The variation in the acne and induction of acne lesions was no greater in the chocolate group than in the nonchocolate group."
Acne forms when the oil glands make too much sebum, a waxy substance that along with dead skin cells can clog pores. Bacteria grow and irritate the blocked pores, giving the red and swollen look to them. Too much harsh washing can further inflame the area.
So how did the chocolate-causes-acne myth arise? "I have a feeling this is a parental issue and not a medical issue," Braverman says.