CHICAGO --- Acne sufferers around the world are using an iPhone app created at Northwestern University to learn how certain foods affect their skin conditions.
The app, called "diet & acne," can be downloaded from the iTunes app store for free. It uses data from a systematic analysis of peer-reviewed research studies to show people if there is or is not scientific evidence linking acne to foods such as chocolate, fat, sugar and whey protein.
"Users may be surprised to learn that there is no conclusive evidence from large randomized controlled trials that have linked chocolate and acne," said Diana Cohen, M.D., creator of the app. "Although one small study found that eating 100 percent cocoa could worsen acne symptoms."
Cohen designed the app when she was a student in the Master of Science in Engineering Design and Innovation program at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern. She is also a 2013 graduate of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a resident physician at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Research displayed in the app shows that dairy (especially skim milk), whey protein, omega-6 fatty acids and foods high in sugar have been associated with the presence of acne. It also explains that foods rich in antioxidants and fiber have been associated with a decreased presence of acne in some studies.
Details about the use of the app were published online in the March 2014 issue of JAMA Dermatology.
Over a five-month period of time, starting April 1 and ending Aug. 31, 2013, the app was downloaded to 5,507 devices in 98 different countries.
Just over 100 people responded to a survey embedded in the app, and 87 percent of respondents reported having acne for a duration of more than one year, with 37 percent reporting they had not seen a physician for their acne.
These results show that well-constructed apps, based upon peer-reviewed literature, can be a highly e
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