Acne Sufferers Might Have Amazing Skin as Adults — and Live Longer

The future looks vibrant for acne sufferers. (Photo: Getty)
The future looks vibrant for acne sufferers. (Photo: Getty Images)

Anyone who’s been afflicted with acne — we’re not talking sporadic zits, but chronic acne — knows that it can leave scars, both physically and emotionally. Acne is the most common skin disease, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. But here’s the good news: Acne may also be a huge blessing in disguise. Doctors have known for a while that it’s a virtual fountain of youth for many people, anointing them with youthful skin well into their 40s and 50s — but researchers have finally figured out why, according to the Sun.

Those researchers, from King’s College London, have evidence that suggests the tendency to maintain youthful skin is linked to the length of a person’s telomeres — and people who have acne have longer telomeres. So what are telomeres? They’re protective caps at the ends of the chromosomes of your white blood cells — the Sun compares them to the plastic caps at the tips of shoelaces. Just like those caps prevent shoelaces from fraying, telomeres block chromosomes from deteriorating during cell division — this deterioration is what contributes to the factors of visibly older skin, like wrinkles and fat loss, according to the Sun.

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“Telomeres gradually break down and shrink as cells age, eventually leading to cell death, which is a normal part of human growth and aging,” according to the Sun. “The length of telomeres … appears to be different in acne sufferers and means their cells may be protected against aging,” confirms the study’s lead researcher, dermatologist Simone Ribero.

But there’s more: The researchers have discovered that in addition to extending the youthfulness of skin, long telomeres also might to add years to your life! Their theory is essentially this: If cells are aging more slowly, then the body is aging more slowly and may stay alive longer. Experts say that further research is needed to confirm this, though.

The study that uncovered all this amazing news was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Researchers measured the length of white blood cell telomeres in 1,205 female twins to determine why acne sufferers seem to enjoy youthful-looking skin for a more prolonged period than nonsufferers. “A quarter of the twins reported having experienced acne in their lifetime, with those affected having longer telomeres on average,” the article states.

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Experts have determined that by their mid-40s, people who have endured acne may have a biological age of five or six years younger on average, according to the Sun. “Their skin typically produces more serum, which acts as a free moisturizer, and keeps them looking young. Now our study shows that the rest of their body may remain equally youthful,” says dermatologist Veronique Bataille, who also worked on the study.

Perhaps scientists will learn how to bottle the magic of long telomeres, because we’re guessing people will shell out big bucks for a beauty boon that acne sufferers have been genetically blessed with.

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