Dangerous Acne Medicine

Treatment of acne with isotretinoin is associated with suicide attempts, according to a new study. A puzzle is that suicide attempts started to rise before the treatment started. They sharply declined to baseline after treatment stopped.

Acne is an good target for self-experimentation because it is easy to measure and is surely related to diet. My discovery of the value of self-experimentation happened with acne: I discovered that of the two drugs my dermatologist had prescribed, one (benzoyl peroxide) worked, the other (tetracycline) didn’t. I had believed the opposite, that tetracycline worked and benzoyl peroxide didn’t work.

9 Responses to “Dangerous Acne Medicine”

  1. Michael Says:

    Why are drugs still prescribed for acne? Loren Cordain has already nailed the cure with the paleo diet.

    This is like the guy in Australia discovering that bacteria cause ulcers and the drug companies continuing to invest billions in making medicine to treat the symptoms of ulcers.

  2. Gunnar Says:

    Seth, thanks for stating what you had believed/anticipated to work prior to your experiment.

    Michael, how about you think about that some longer. I could tell you what I found out, but it’s better to find out for oneself.

    Cheers!

  3. CTB Says:

    There’s garden variety acne (zits and whiteheads)…and then there’s cystic acne where the lesions look like someone put peas under your skin. A friend of mine had cystic acne. She was miserable both because the lesions hurt and because of the social effects of having your face look deformed. She took Accutane when it first came out in the 80′s. The doctors were very cautious back then and would only prescribe it for serious acne. I can understand why someone with cystic acne might consider suicide…and maybe that might then convince the doctors that they needed the stronger treatment. I think if I looked the way she did at 25, and felt so depressed that I wanted to kill myself, I just might do it if my dermatologist told me to go home and experiment with my diet.

  4. Mark Says:

    I have an aunt whose face would become acne ridden whenever she ate sunflower seeds. May it has to do with with the fact that sunflower oil is almost devoid of omega-3s.

  5. robert Says:

    what a load of irresponsible crap. food is responsible for a vanishing minority of acne, and people looking for an acne fix by adjusting their diet are in for a long wait-as in, until the process burns out. accutane (13 cis retinoic acid, or 13cra) does not cause depression, rather, severe acne is associated with a near doubling of suiccide risk. this is clear from the medical literature. it is great to self-experiment, but only a fool would ignore what has been already learned by previous investigators. furthermore, generalizing from your experience and presuming it applies to others is foolish.

  6. Seth Roberts Says:

    “Food is responsible for a vanishing minority of acne” — what is this conclusion based on? I know of no evidence that supports that idea.

    “Generalizing from your experience and presuming it applies to others is foolish.” Years after I discovered that tetracycline did not help my acne, articles started appearing in dermatology journals saying the same thing. In this case, at least, generalizing from my experience would have been a good idea.

  7. Mr F Says:

    > Why are drugs still prescribed for acne? Loren Cordain has already nailed the cure with the paleo diet.

    AHAHAHAHHAHA… oh, you were being serious :/

  8. Marina Witsky Says:

    It never fails to amaze me how the cosmetics & pharmaceutical industries continue to rip acne suffers off providing them with useless products in order to fuel cyclical consumption. Think how many billions are made from selling rubbish like Benzoyl Peroxide or using Tetracycline antibiotics. They can never cure the acne just provide temporary relief if it can even be called that.
    Moderate/ Sever acne needs to be treated seriously with Accutane which has been used to treat 13 million people worldwide for over 25 years.

  9. Seth Roberts Says:

    Marina, I have removed the spammy links in your comment. You cannot be serious. First, benzoyl peroxide actually works. I tested it. Second, Accutane is dangerous. It has bad side effects. It is expensive. It doesn’t “cure” the acne nor provide more than “temporary relief”. It’s just another drug. Using Accutane is a distraction from figuring out what has caused the acne. Probably something about the diet. Not lack of Accutane. I suppose the problem with Accutane is partly revealed by comments such as yours. If Accutane were so great, it wouldn’t need to be marketed in misleading ways.