Severe Acne in Teen Years Linked to Increased Endometriosis Risk

By Anne Harding

August 29, 2014

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with a history of severe acne in their teenage years are at significantly greater risk of endometriosis, new research shows.

Based on the findings, patients with a history of severe teenage acne and non-specific symptoms, such as an irregular menstrual cycle or abdominal pain, should be evaluated for endometriosis, the study's first author, Dr. Jing Xie of Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Reuters Health.

"Because this is a very obvious indicator, you can easily observe it, it may actually improve diagnosis, and may be used in screening," he said.

Endometriosis, which affects about 10% of women, is often not diagnosed until several years after symptom onset, Dr. Xie and his colleagues note in their report, online August 19 in Human Reproduction.

A single nucleotide polymorphism on chromosome 8q24 was recently linked to a four-fold increased risk of severe teenage acne, while several studies have found altered expression of the c-myc gene -- also located at chromosome 8q24 -- in endometriosis, the researchers note.

To investigate whether there might be a relationship between the two conditions, Dr. Xie and his team performed a prospective cohort study using data from the Nurses Health Study II, which included 88,623 women followed from September 1989 to June 2009.

During follow-up, there were 4,382 new, laparoscopically confirmed cases of endometriosis among the study participants. Women who reported a history of severe teenage acne -- 7.9% of the group -- were 20% more likely to develop endometriosis.

The association remained after the researchers adjusted for isotretinoin use and tetracycline use. Infertility history or body mass index did not influence the results, and the link was independent of skin and hair characteristics.

"We think the most likely mechanism may be genetics," Dr. Xie told Reuters Health. Changes in sex hormones or immune malfunction could also play a role, he and his colleagues write.


Hum Reprod 2014.


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