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Acne may protect against infections

Acne may simply be the price we pay for a natural defence mechanism. The bacteria that cause acne may protect sufferers from other infections and cancer in later life. Says a research published in the journal of microbiology.

Scientists believe that the presence of the bacteria, known as propionibacteria (P. acnes), may help to crank up the immune system so that is more effective at tackling subsequent infections. It appears that P. acnes stimulates activity among a type of white blood cell called a Th-1lymphocyte which plays a central response in fighting infection.//

These cells specialise in fighting bacteria and viruses. However, they can also be mobilised to attack some types of tumour cell. Dr Anne Eady, of the Skin Research Centre at the University of Leeds, said there was evidence that certain skin cancers are less common in people who once had acne.

Acne is a disease of the tiny hair follicles found on the skin. Each follicle is surrounded by glands that produce a protective oily substance known as sebum. People with acne produce excessive amounts of sebum, which clogs up the follicle, and provides and ideal breeding ground for P. acnes.

However, Dr.Eady admits that her work, while helping some to avoid the misery of a disfiguring condition, may actually be counter productive in other ways. "If acne is eliminated we may begin to pay a much higher price as the incidence of certain cancers starts to rise. "One day we may all be popping pills of P. acnes in a bid to stay healthy."


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