versus, a website paid for by the drug company behind Proactiv, a common acne medicine, has the following:

Acne Myths & Claims: Certain foods cause acne. No, those french fries you had yesterday didn’t give you new zits today. In fact, scientists have been unable to find ANY substantial connection between diet and acne. So all the foods you’ve been afraid of — pizza, french fries, chocolate — are fine. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should binge on your favorites whenever you want — a healthy diet will help your body have the strength to help you in your fight against acne. So use your common sense, but don’t be afraid to indulge now and then.

“All the foods you’ve been afraid of are fine”? This is much too certain-sounding. The studies that failed to find a diet/acne connection were poor. Other research suggests that acne may well have a dietary cause. The false certainty is self-serving. Because foods don’t cause acne don’t bother trying to figure out which ones; just take our medicine! It resembles my surgeon claiming there was evidence that the surgery she recommended and would profit from was a good idea when there wasn’t any such evidence.

In contrast, has this:

Myth: Diet and acne are related. Reality: The bottom line is we need more research. We do know that people in some indigenous societies do not experience [any] acne whatsoever across the entire population. This is in stark contrast to the widespread presence of acne throughout all modern society. It leaves us to ponder the question of whether the indigenous people’s diet contributes to their acne-free skin. Discovering a dietary way of preventing acne may be a future reality, however, we may live so differently from our hunter/gatherer ancestors that it has become close to impossible to replicate our ancestral diet. But let’s see if we can work together to come to some consensus from our own experiences. If you feel that you have cleared your acne using a particular diet, or if you are planning on attempting a diet of some kind, please post your method on the Nutrition & Holistic health message board.

That’s reasonable and helpful. The website that couldn’t hire expensive experts had better information.

Reviews of Proactiv on

6 Replies to “ versus”

  1. The paragraph is one of the most epistemologically sound I’ve ever read about a practical health problem like acne. Not only does he have better information than the paid experts, but his underlying view of human knowledge, its limits, and how to improve it stands out as well.

  2. Seth,

    Based on your experience with dermatologists, could you compare the regimen recommended on with what a “typical” dermatologist would prescribe?


  3. When it comes to dissing dermatologists and medical journals, Michael Holick deserves some sort of prize. I saw this highly entertaining lecture on UCTV. Among other things, good examples of: 1) telling stories; 2) use of clinical, “rogue” and self-experimentation (small and large samples).

  4. Out of all food, caffeine has the greatest impact on my acne. Abstaining from anything with caffeine in it (including chocolate), took care of ~25% of my acne problem.

    Benzaclin, a prescription topical agent, took care of another 4th of the problem. No other medications worked.

    Actually, the most striking difference I’ve seen from any therapy has been simple supplementation with Pantothenic acid, a b vitamin that is cheap and OTC. Nothing cleared my “backne” until I started using that. I don’t hear a lot on this blog about supplementation, but that one worked for me. Oddly, from my self-experimentation, fish oil/flax seems to have a mild aggravating effect on my acne.

    I’ve had to do extensive experimentation to find the right soap product. I disagree that washing with soap is a problem – its simply a matter of finding the right soap. I recommend the facial cleanser from Neutrogena. Find it at target, in a blue squeeze bottle. Cleans but doesn’t dry the face out (contrary to what would seem logical, skin that is too dry can also lead to breakouts, in my experience).

  5. In a lot of cases it can be very difficult to heal acne and comparable skin diseases. I am a long time sufferer myself and I am still hoping to find a treatment that works for me. I will try out what is mentioned here, maybe it brings relief. Stupid companies and their ‘neutral’ websites probably partly ruined my skin, screw them!

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