Could omega-3 fatty acids fight acne? | Health, Medicine and Fitness

Cara Murez

WEDNESDAY, May 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — As many as 50 million Americans suffer from acne. Blemishes can be painful and, for some, embarrassing.

Now researchers may have found a new weapon to fight acne without serious side effects.

A study in Germany identified omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish oil, wild salmon, nuts and seeds – as a helpful nutrient for reducing acne.

Among 100 participants with acne, about 94% had low levels of fatty acids in their blood, the study found. Many also had higher levels of a hormone known to stimulate acne production.

“As someone who loves treating acne and doing clinical trials, this is a very interesting study,” said Dr. Sandra Johnson, a dermatologist in Fort Smith, Ark. Johnson was not involved in the study.

“We have great acne treatments, but they come at a financial cost as well as potential side effects,” Johnson said. “It would be more natural, less risky and less expensive to change your diet to treat acne.”

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The results of the study were published at last week’s meeting of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in uncultured fish, seaweed, and other plant-based foods, including legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The researchers said these fatty acids reduce inflammation by stimulating the body to produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins E1 and E3 and leukotrienes B5, and lowering levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor ). IGF-1 is known to induce acne.

The study’s lead author, Dr Anne Gürtler, said clinicians should provide patients with information about dietary choices as part of a modern acne treatment approach. She works in the Department of Dermatology and Allergy at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

When his team analyzed participants’ blood samples, they found that most had levels of omega-3 fatty acids 8% to 11% below recommended amounts.

Looking at individual diets, the team found that those who regularly ate chickpeas and lentils, while abstaining from sunflower oil, had higher levels of omega-3s. Sunflower oil has been found in previous research to make acne worse.

Patients in the study who had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids also had higher levels of IGF-1. Those with severe omega-3 deficits, below 4%, had even more IGF-1 hormone.

Researchers have studied the influence of diet on acne for many years, Johnson said. Yet the research has not been of high quality because it has not received much funding.

Some think foods like high-glycemic index donuts, nuts, hormone-influenced meats and iodine-rich foods can make acne worse, she said.

Dairy products and sugar are among other dietary culprits that have been blamed for increasing acne.

New York dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman said she always discusses diet with her patients, in addition to reviewing the products they use on their skin. Jaliman was also not involved in this study.

“Omega-3s seem to be a very important part of our diet in many ways,” Jaliman said, noting its link to other health benefits.

“I notice in my patients, when you change people’s diet, I feel like it really has an effect on their acne, but it may also be that, of course, I change their habits, I add drugs. You’re doing a lot of things at once. It’s not like here where it’s a controlled study, but I think it’s having an effect,” Jaliman said.

Topical hormone blockers, a new treatment, are another change that is revolutionizing the field of acne treatment. The cream blocks excess male hormones on the skin, without requiring the consumption of harsh internal medications, Jaliman said. She called it the biggest breakthrough in 30 years.

It’s too early to tell whether an omega-3 supplement created to reduce acne based on blood serum levels would improve skin, researchers say. Further study is required first.

Johnson said she would like to know the potential side effects and what the optimal dose of omega-3 fatty acids might be.

“Although there are not many clinical trials to support their use, eating omega-3 rich foods and supplements can be considered as a supplement or natural alternative for the treatment of acne,” Johnson said.

Although Jaliman said she would like to see research with a larger sample size, she also said it wouldn’t hurt for someone living with acne to add more omega-3 foods to their diet. food.

“I think skin is affected by everything. It’s affected by stress. It’s affected by exercise. People who exercise have better skin,” Jaliman said. “I think it’s a reflection of your whole body.”

The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on acne.

SOURCES: Sandra Marchese Johnson, MD, dermatologist, Johnson Dermatology, Fort Smith, Ark; Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist, private practice, New York; European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Spring Symposium, May 12-14, 2022, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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