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Acne linked to suicide risk: Swedish study

Acne linked to suicide risk: Swedish study

Published: 12 Nov 2010 07:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Nov 2010 07:52 GMT+01:00

Severe acne can increase the risk of suicide, Swedish researchers have found, but a drug used to treat the condition may not be the main culprit.

While acne is a common affliction, it can still result in psychosocial problems and reduced self confidence for those who suffer from even mild cases.

One of the primary drugs used to treat acne is isotretinoin, which is commonly sold as Roaccutane (previously known as Accutane).

Last year, 7,450 patients in Sweden were prescribed the drug. Side effects include dry eyes, hair loss, as well as effects on the liver, muscles, lipoproteins, and bones.

In addition, a number of studies going back to the 1980s have suggested a relationship between isotretinoin and the onset of psychological effects, including depression and increased suicide risk.

In a new study, published in British Medical Journal, Swedish researchers looked at data from about 5,700 Swedes who were prescribed Roaccutane in the 1980s. The scientists then linked the data with information from Swedish institutional care and cause of death records.

Between 1980 and 2001, a total of 128 subjects reviewed in the study tried to take their own lives, with 24 actually committing suicide.

The results aren’t statistically airtight, but the researchers found that the risk of attempted suicide was higher for the group of Roaccutane users than for the population in general, but that the risk increase often occurred before people started taking the drug.

“At the level of the population, our results indicate that treatment with isotretinoin may attenuate suicidal behaviour. For certain vulnerable patients, however, isotretinoin may trigger such behaviour,” the researchers wrote.

The challenge for future studies, the authors added, is developing ways to identify who may be vulnerable to the drug.

“The trend is rather clear. Severe acne in itself must be a very important part of the causal connection to suicide,” said Anders Sundström, a pharmacoepidemiologist at Karolinska Institutet and lead author of the study, told the TT news agency.

But the study doesn’t reveal whether it is the pimples themselves or some other underlying cause, such as genes, which lie behind the increased suicide risk.

“All patients with severe acne should have their mental health monitored closely,” said Sundström.

Related links:

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:29 November 12, 2010 by Shanie
I had to take Roaccutane when I was 17 - 18, I think if I didn't take I would have been fairly suicidal. It worked great and no side effect.
10:32 November 12, 2010 by riose
Correlation != causality.

In the developed countries, the amount of TVs per house is higher, and the child mortality is smaller.

The Local headline: "Number of TVs in the house linked to child mortality"

And even worse if:

"The results aren't statistically airtight, but the researchers found that the risk of attempted suicide was higher for the group of Roaccutane users than for the population in general, but that the risk increase often occurred before people started taking the drug."

So Roaccutane increases the risk of suicide even before starting to take the drug.

Love this "news".
15:18 November 12, 2010 by Icarusty
I actually took this when younger, it made me LESS suicidal because the acne was clearing up :)
09:05 November 13, 2010 by Dom har glömt
No need to kill yourself because of some acne. Just dip yourself in a pool or

find a hot tub with chlorine in it as long as your not alergic to chlorine. It will

dry out the acne and it will heal. It worked for me sometimes when I was

a kid, and by the way, not just a regular pool, but a pool with chlorine in it.
17:04 November 22, 2010 by Allina
Instead of telling more about this nasty stuff as Roaccutane so for more people to start using it, you'd better tell about other ways how to treat acne! I use a method from the book called "The Acne Cure: The Revolutionary Non-prescription Treatment. Plan That Can Cure Even the Most Severe Acne and Shows Dramatic Results in as Little as 24 Hours" By T. J. Dubrow. It perfectly works!!! Make all dermatologist read it! And also tell them that not every pimple on a face is acne. I feel like I know more than an average dermatologist while I do not have a medical degree.
14:48 November 25, 2010 by SueVela
Not everyone taking Accutane will experience its side effects, but why to take the risk where there are other alternative safe procedures to get rid of acne.

A couple of years ago, I had a severe outburst of acne on my face. I researched the internet and read all about Accutane and other treatments. To cut it short, after trying a few over-the counter medications, I decided to see a cosmetic dermatologist. I was in Los Angeles at the time. After a combination treatment, which included microdermabrasion, IPL therapy, and laser resurfacing with a Nd:YAG laser, my acne cleared completely within 4 months. I had 6 or 7 treatment sessions in all.

You can read more about the treatment details by clicking on acne laser treatment. The site has many 'before and after pictures' of acne patients.
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