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).
Word travels fast on the Internet. As stories fly from inbox to inbox, they gain momentum and news sometimes blurs with fiction. A few years ago, an email began circulating that gave many readers reason to pause. It read:
"I just got information from a health seminar that I would like to share. The leading cause of breast cancer is the use of antiperspirant. Yes, ANTIPERSPIRANT. Most of the products out there are an anti-perspirant/deodorant combination so go home and check your labels."
"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.