Article written by Jack Bullock
Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved

"Don't worry, chocolate doesn't cause acne." Various skin doctors must have told me this about 1,000 times over the years. As you read this I am sure you're recollecting about a few times that this has been told to you as well. Sad part is, it is not completely true. Sadder fact is that this 'claim' is used to back up the theory that diet doesn't affect acne.

Over the past three decades this 'story' has gained considerable popularity throughout the world. Most people who tell you this, including doctors, do not know the true story behind the study.

Without any further delay, let's dig a little deeper into the reason why this story has become so famous.

In 1969 three doctors (Fulton, Plewig, and Kligman) conducted a study that they claimed "proved" that chocolate does not make acne worse. This study was later published in the 12/15/69 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As I am sure you're aware, teens (and adults) everywhere jumped for joy. This study, in one shot, allowed the world to discard all the studies and observations of some of the finest dermatologists in the world.

Why? Two reasons. First, this was a very scientific 'sounding' article. Second, people wanted (desperately) to believe that this was true.

The chocolate study consisted of 65 subjects. The acne severity of the group ranged from mild to medium.

For 30 days each subject was given a control bar (candy). Team A received a bar of chocolate substitute while Team B was received a control bar with real chocolate.

At the end of the 30 day study, each subject was analyzed and the data was recorded. In the end their finding was that Team B did not break out more than Team A.

That's it! It did not decisively state that chocolate didn't cause acne. All it stated was that those eating chocolate did not break out more than those eating a chocolate substitute.

With a little digging, you'll find that this study may not have been the be all and end all in regards to chocolate and acne breakouts.

First, let's examine the control bar that was given to Team B. This bar was not your usual chocolate bar. It had NO BUTTERFAT. A typical chocolate bar contains over 5% butterfat.

Was this was due to hide the fact to which team received the real chocolate and which team received the placebo? I'm not sure, but we NEED to know that this was how it was.

Control Bar B had 46% chocolate liquor. This means that it would have had approximately 55% cocoa butter, totalling over 25% saturated fat.

Control Bar A contained 28% hydrogenated vegetable fat. The key here was to measure the viscosity of the hydrogenated vegetable fat as compared to the cocoa butter. This was not done.

Another important fact was that a subject was considered worse ONLY if he/she experienced a 30% (or greater) increase in acne lesions. Conversely, they were considered improved ONLY if the lesion count decreased by 30% (or more).

Interesting, isn't it? If you said "no", then check this out. Let's say you enrolled into the study and your face had 50 pimples on it. After 30 days you find that your skin now has 64 pimples on it. Well, Congratulations, according to the study chocolate does not make your acne worse. Are you happy?

The funny thing is, one of the doctors (Dr. Albert Kligman) running the study had stated that you will only see ominous changes in the skin within a 30 day period, and this is with a microscope. These changes would not be visible by the naked eye.

It would be interesting to find out (4) things:

   1. How many subjects had experience a 25-29% increase
       in breakouts, but were not considered to be worse?

   2. If it was known (beforehand) that visible changes to
       the skin would not been seen within a 30 day period
       then why not have a 2-month study?

   3. How many subjects continued to experience breakouts,
       including those under the 30% study guideline, after
       the 30 day study was completed (triggered by chocolate)?

   4. Why wasn't there a Team C & Team D added to the study?
       Team C would consist of acne subjects that would be moni-
       tored with no chocolate but put on a modified diet. Team D
       would consist of subjects that have clear skin 95% of the
       time and only suffer occasional breakouts. Team D would
       be given Control Bar B (real chocolate). The study would run
       for (60) days. With this (2) extra groups added to the med-
       ical study, we could easily pinpoint chocolate as either an acne
       "trigger" or a "safe food" by comparing Team C to Team D.
       (not testing chocolate bars against substitute bars).

As you can see, this study had some major flaws in it. However, because they had put together such a scientic 'sounding' article the world was eager to believe it to be true. Let's face it, who wants to believe that they have to watch what they eat or they could breakout?

Don't forget these were also mild to moderate acne subjects. This means that they were on a somewhat acnegenic diet to begin with. This study was done to see if chocolate made it WORSE... not if it actually caused acne. A HUGE point to remember.

So, next time someone tells you that chocolate doesn't cause acne ask them, "How do you know that?"..."Can you prove it?"

I hope this report "hit home". Use this information to empower yourself.

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