For those people who thought that eating chocolate gave you spots, there’s some good news – you were right. While this is good news for those people who always like to be proved right, it’s bad news for those people who love chocolate and are prone to acne. Thanks to a small clinical trial in the United States the evidence is in. The trial in question is reported in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (and available to read for free here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/). This was a placebo controlled trial, which meant that one group of patients received capsules of unsweetened 100% chocolate, another group received capsules containing gelatine and another group capsules containing a mixture. This was also a double-blinded trial, which meant that neither the doctors nor the subjects of the study (men between the ages of 18 and 35 with pre-existing acne) knew who was getting the choc and who was getting the placebo capsules.
The men were assessed at day 4 and day 7 of the study and the number of acne lesions counted. And the results showed that there those who had the choc were more likely to have spots than those that didn’t. That’s the bad news. But there are some things to keep in mind. Firstly, this is a tiny study with data from only 13 participants. That’s a really tiny number to be using for a study with different doses and treatment groups. What’s more, when the authors looked at the correlation between chocolate dose and number of spots the numbers were tiny – if there’s an effect then it’s not very strong.
So, what can we conclude from this? Only that there’s some evidence to support the idea that chocolate consumption might increase the number of spots for people already prone to acne. But the strength of the connection is not especially strong. Personally if this was a problem for me I would carry out my own experiment. Stop eating chocolate for a while, take a few selfies for a few days, then binge on some choc that you enjoy, follow up with a few more selfies and then compare. Do you see a difference? Repeat a few times and see if there’s a repeatable effect. From this you can conclude whether chocolate has an effect on you personally and maybe even make an assessment of how big the effect it is.