The Weird Upside of Acne: Turns Out You’ll Age Better

If you’ve been plagued by acne, good news: Turns out that you have a way better chance of aging more slowly than your clear-skinned counterparts, according to a new study. Scientists at King’s College London found that “people who have previously suffered from acne are likely to have longer telomeres in their white blood cells, meaning their cells could be better protected against aging.”

Apparently telomeres are caps that are found at the tip of chromosomes, and longer ones help keep chromosomes from breaking down as cells age, which leads to wrinkles and cell death. So—while you may be driven crazy by acne earlier in life, the trade-off might lie in looking youthful for longer than your peers.

The study was published today in the very detective-y sounding Journal of Investigative Dermatology, and apparently focused on female 1,205 twins, a fourth of which had had acne at some time in their life. (Since that’s an uneven number, we’re assuming that one twin tapped out of the study, but we digress.)

Previous studies have shown that the longer the telomere, the better chances you have at aging slowly, and acne sufferers have “significantly longer” telomeres, the study found.

Dr. Simone Ribero, a dermatologist and lead author of the study, said, “For many years dermatologists have identified that the skin of acne sufferers appears to age more slowly than in those who have not experienced any acne in their lifetime. … Our findings suggest that the cause could be linked to the length of telomeres which appears to be different in acne sufferers and means their cells may be protected against aging.”

Because the participants were only women, and also because the study relied on self-reporting of acne and treatment, there are some limitations, and since it’s the first of its kind, more are likely to follow. But—in the meantime, if you’ve ever bemoaned the day your skin started breaking out, take a moment to celebrate that you might have landed a weirdly great side-effect. Silver linings!


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