acne

  1. Dangerous meds for little girls

    It's one of the worst ideas I've ever seen from the mainstream -- and that's saying a lot.

    An outrageous new study is pushing powerful diabetes meds on girls as young as 8 years old who don't even have the disease in a bizarre effort to preserve their fertility decades later.

    Researchers claim their study shows that the drug metformin can help prevent polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS -- a
    hormonal imbalance that's one of the leading causes female infertility.

    In reality, the study doesn't even show that much -- but if it did, there are other safer ways to beat the condition.

    I'll get to those in the moment.

    First, the details: Researchers recruited 38 8-year-old girls (presumably through their parents) who had some of the key risk factors for PCOS: low birth weight and early appearance of pubic hair.

    Half were given metformin for four years between the ages of 8 and 12, while the rest got the drug for just one year at the age of 12.

    By 15, the girls who were on the drug for four years were up to 8 times less likely to have some of the later signs of PCOS, including menstruation problems, acne, abnormal hair growth, and higher levels of male hormones.

    Obviously, there's no indication of whether or not these girls experienced fertility problems, but the researchers say they plan to track them until the age of 18 to see what else happens.

    But really, why bother?

    PCOS doesn't have a single "right" answer and there's no surefire cure for it -- and metformin won't turn out to be one, either.

    If it works even a little, it's because the condition appears to be related to diabetes: Women who suffer from PCOS have a higher risk of insulin resistance and a higher risk of the disease itself.

    The most promising treatment for both PCOS and diabetes isn't a drug -- it's lifestyle changes, and many of the women who've made those changes have been able to get both under control.

    One study from 2005 found that six months of a low-carb diet improved weight as well as testosterone and insulin levels in obese women who suffered from PCOS. A study last year found similar results from a low-glycemic diet, which is similar to a low-carb diet.

    Since eating right can make anyone healthier at any age, this one's a no-brainer: Don't give a little girl drugs for a condition she doesn't even have -- just put better food on the table every night, and the entire family will benefit.

  2. When acne turns deadly

    The acne did it!

    That's the latest message from researchers looking into the notorious side effects of one of the worst meds ever unleashed upon adolescents.

    I'm talking about the acne drug isotretinoin, but you might know it better as Roche's Accutane.

    Still sold generically, Roche pulled its version of the med after a wave of bad press--including a suicidal teen who crashed a plane into a Tampa office building after taking the drug in 2002.

    He was one of a number of youths who took their own lives, or tried to, after taking the drug. But in a new study, researchers try to absolve the med--claiming that acne on its own causes suicidal depression.

    How convenient.

    So how many youths on isotretinoin were involved in this new study? None.

    Instead, researchers sent questionnaires to 3,775 teens in Oslo, Norway and found that kids who suffer from severe acne are 80 percent more likely to experience episodes of suicidal ideation than kids with clear skin, according to the study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

    Sorry, but I'm just not buying Deadly Pimple Theory-- because other studies, including research that actually involved the drug, have found otherwise.

    One 2008 study found that isotretinoin could double the risk of depression, while a 2007 study on mice found that the drug can disrupt serotonin production--something we know causes depression.

    But even if you want to pretend that this med has no suicide link, there are plenty of other reasons not to take it. Suicidal depression may be the worst of the possible side effects--but not by much.

    And if you think the acne is bad for self-esteem, you should see what happens to a teen who experiences any combination of these: baldness, irritable bowel disorders, rashes, thin skin, peeling skin, nose bleeds, muscle pain and back pain.

    Isotretinoin has also been linked to birth defects, erectile dysfunction, stunted growth, vision problems--the list goes on from here.

    But you and your teen don't have to risk any of that, because there are safe and natural ways to control acne at any age, from dietary changes to nutritional supplements and herbal remedies. Talk to a doctor experienced in natural healing to find the best solution for you.

    And if you happen to be a teenager, don't worry so much. Trust me--it does go away.

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