Week of November 26, 2012
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

AICR HealthTalk
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Does diet have any effect on acne?

A: Whether or not diet might affect development or treatment of acne is controversial, with few well-controlled studies on which to base answers. The latest evidence suggests if you have no family history of acne, dietary habits (even high fat consumption or chocolate) are not linked to acne. However, some evidence now suggests that for people with a family history of acne eating habits could affect hormones and growth factors in ways that promote acne. The strongest evidence suggests a link to diets high in glycemic load – meaning lots of sugars and refined starchy foods like white bread. This kind of eating pattern tends to be low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and is not healthy, so cutting down on sweets and refined grains is a great idea for overall health whether or not it helps acne. Evidence is less clear whether high consumption of dairy products increases development of acne in some people. If you are considering a trial of avoiding or severely limiting dairy foods to see if your acne improves, take special care to include fortified foods or supplements to meet calcium needs, since this mineral is important to bone health. For women and teenage girls whose acne is related to polycystic ovarian syndrome, weight loss, moderate physical activity and a healthy diet high in fiber from vegetables, fruits and whole grains may help.

Q: Are biscotti as low-calorie as they seem?

A: The crisp Italian cookies called biscotti have become a popular accompaniment to coffee. Double baking makes biscotti dry so although they seem low-fat and low-calorie, most are not. They contain enough butter or oil to make a one-ounce biscotti contain about 130 calories, with four to seven grams of fat and six to twelve grams of sugar (1.5 to 3 teaspoons). That’s essentially the same as having one serving of a popular sandwich cookie (two or three), although biscotti have a lower sugar content. The secret is to eat slowly and truly savor biscotti – or any cookie – now and then as a treat.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

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