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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Acne 'may protect heart health'
Acne may not be the blight many teenagers see it as
Having spots as a teenager could protect men's heart health later in life, a study claims.

Researchers from Bristol University say a study of 10,000 Scottish men showed those who had acne in their youth were less likely to develop heart disease.

They say the connection may be male hormones - androgens - involved in acne development, which might also offer cardiac protection.

The research is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

These findings may help acne sufferers to get through it
Dr Bruna Galobardes, University of Bristol

Men who attended Glasgow University between 1948 and 1968 were asked to take part in Glasgow Alumni Cohort Study, which assessed their health during their study.

Just under 10,000 of them have been traced again since 1998.

Men who had a history of acne as students had a lower risk of going on to develop coronary heart disease in adulthood than those who had not experienced the condition, it was found.

Acne sufferers were more likely to be non-smokers.

But the researchers said even when this and other factors which could have affected their findings were taken into account, the link between acne and heart protection remained.

However, men without acne were seen to have an increased risk of prostate cancer in later life.

'Not conclusive'

Dr Bruna Galobardes, from the Department of Social Medicine at Bristol University, who led the research, said: "This seems to point to the fact that having acne if you are a man could be good for your heart.

"Those who suffer from acne seem to have a reduced chance of developing heart disease."

She said other studies looking at androgens on heart disease had been inconclusive on their potential benefits.

She added more research was needed to compare the progress of a group given androgens early in life with a group who were not to give a definitive conclusion.

But Dr Galobardes added: "These findings may help acne sufferers to get through it.

"There's still a stigma about acne and despite these findings that it may help your heart, I think most sufferers would prefer not to have acne in the first place."

Alison Shaw, Cardiac Nurse, at the British Heart Foundation, said: "It is possible that higher androgen levels may be linked to lower lipid levels or somehow affect the processes involved in creating the narrowing of the coronary arteries.

"However, this research is by no means conclusive: the researchers themselves acknowledge that more research is needed, especially as other studies have found a link between acne and possible increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)."

She added: "The bottom line is that, in order to reduce the risk of developing CHD, we should be encouraging teenagers to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

"Young people should be active, not smoke, limit alcohol consumption and the amount of fat they consume, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables."

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