The teenage years are filled with indignities, chief among them the skin condition scientifically known as acne vulgaris. Even the name is an insult.
But what actually causes acne? Well, recent studies suggest that with this particular teenage problem, it really is mom and dad's fault.
As Lissette Padilla explains in this DNews dispatch, a batch of new research out of Yale University reveals that DNA may play a major role in determining whether people develop acne.
After closely analyzing blood samples from three different acne sufferers, Yale geneticists discovered that all three had mutations within the gene designated NEK9. That's the gene responsible for producing hair follicles on the skin. The mutation appears to cause a defect in which normal hair production is stymied by blackheads and acne.
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Meanwhile, a related meta review of previous acne studies resulted in a rather depressing number: Factoring in several different type of acne, it appears that acne's heritability is around 80 percent for first-degree relatives.
In other words, if mom and/or dad have the rogue gene that causes acne, there's a good chance that you've got it, too.
While there's no true consensus on the ultimate cause of acne, the new genetic data is promising direction for research. There's also some evidence that bacteria plays a role, in that antibiotics have been proven useful in treating some kinds of acne.
As for the common perception that certain foods cause acne, there's actually very little evidence for this, according that same meta-review of clinical studies. A diet low in glucose tends to result in healthier skin, but that's about all we know for sure.
Teenagers have it tough enough as it is. Let's hope the geneticists can come through here and help with finding a cure for acne.
-- By Glenn McDonald Read More:
Yale: Yale-led study zeroes in on mutation linked to zits
NCBI: Epidemiology of acne vulgaris.
Discovery News: Sweat-Eating Bacteria: Acne Miracle Cure?