The latest study on persons with severe cases of acne have an increased risk of attempting suicide. This new research is now raising a blazing controversy over acne medications such as Roche’s Accutane provoking suicidal thoughts.
Scientists in Sweden have discovered that patients had up to an additional year of suicide risk after using the acne treatment of isotretinoin, a generic version of Accutane for severe acne cases.
Scientists state that a more reasonable understanding is that the primary severe acne could explain the increased risk however, they could not dismiss the possibility that it could be a side effect from the medication.
Accutane, manufactured by Swedish drug company Roche, stated last year they would cease manufacturing the drug due to the competition of generic versions. The drug has faced negative issues since it was released in 1982.
Even though it is an effective medication at eliminating acne in severe cases, it has been associated to birth defects if taken while pregnant and also has been believed in bringing about mental side effects.
Roche has actively defended personal injury claims in this area.
Currently Accutane is now available in generic isotretinoin and marketed by Mylan, Ranbaxy, Teva Pharmaceutical companies.
Acne is a broad range skin complaint in nearly 80% of adolescents. Even though most cases of acne are mild, the more severe cases can be very disfiguring, a delicate issue in social groups who are already self conscious about their bodies.
Practitioners state that isotretinoin is effective in those patients with severe acne. Nevertheless, they do comment on reports of association between isotretinoin and depression and suicidal behaviors. Conflicting results were seen in scientific studies.
In 2008, Canadian scientists conducted a study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showing that isotretinoin may double the risk for depression.
Norwegian scientists earlier this year in a study had discovered that the rates of depression and suicidal thoughts were two to three times greater in young persons with the most severe cases of acne in comparison to those without it, this had shown that it is possible the medication may not be the cause.
Is it just a natural path?
Even with past scientific evidence documented, Anders Sundstrom and associates from the Institute of Karolinska in Sweden, examined suicide attempts prior to, during and after the isotretinoin treatment for acne.
They had evaluated information from 5,756 persons who had received prescriptions for isotretinoin during the years 1980 to 1989 and then associated these to hospital discharges and cause of death registers for the years 1980 to 2001.
Their findings, which are published in the British Medical Journal, reveal findings of 128 patients admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt. Their study had also discovered the amount of suicide attempts had increased between one and three years before taking isotretinoin.
Risks of suicide attempts were at their highest rates within six months of ending treatment.
The research team does note it is impossible to know positively whether the increased rate of suicide risk was due to natural reasons of the severe acne or if they were from negative side effects of the treatment.
Dr. Sarah Bailey of the pharmacy and pharmacology department at Britain’s Bath University, commented on the study. Dr. Bailey states the research was of importance and strengthens the view that severe acne can produce major psychological reactions.
The debatable question of increased suicide risk associated to isotretinoin is not solved by this study. However, the most compelling discovery was the risk of suicide did increase after treatment. This shows that it is important to continue observing the patients carefully.
Other side effects and warnings of isotretinoin
Women who are of childbearing years must have two negative pregnancy tests before they can start using this treatment. A pregnancy test is required each month while on the medication. Two effective forms of birth control must be used during treatment. Becoming pregnant should be avoided one month before, during and one month after treatment has ended.
There is no knowledge on whether this medication is deposited in breast milk however, due to this medications possible serious side effects it should not be used when nursing.
Most common side effects include dry skin, itching, nose bleeds and inflammation of whites of eyes. Joint pain is also very common. It can increase blood in cholesterol and triglycerides. Problems such as depression, hallucinations and suicidal behavior have been reported.
Very rare side effects include skin infection, hearing impairment and hepatitis. In extremely rare cases it can cause swelling in the brain.
Today there are several alternative acne treatments which are available that can eliminate acne without prescriptions that can cause side effects.
Many times what you consume plays a major role in acne.
A diet consisting of high fiber such as whole grains like bread and cereal, bran and a lot of fruit and vegetables. Many times skin problems improve when adding fiber to the diet.
Greatly reduce junk food and limit fat intake to no more than 20% of total daily calories. Hydrogenated oils should be eliminated.
Eliminate sugar and fine carbohydrates.
Reduce milk consumption. The hormones in milk can aggravate acne.
Avoid chocolate, tea, coffee, fried foods and foods containing trans fat along with soda and artificial sweeteners.
There are supplements which have been proven effective for acne. Some of them include:
Chromium: Aides in glucose tolerance. If you have sugar induced acne this is a good supplement to use. Dose 400mcg (ChromMate).
Selenium: Aides to boost the strength of vitamin E when they are taken together. Persons with severe acne have been found to have low levels of selenium.
Vitamin E: Boosts the effectiveness of certain enzymes which are needed for good skin health.
Zinc: One of the vital minerals needed for it is stronger than antibiotics. It controls inflammation and promotes healthy skin overall. Results will be seen sometimes after taking zinc for one or two months. It then in all probability reduce the recurrence of acne once the bodies chemistry is in balance.
The following herbs have been used in acne treatments.
Amaranth: To be consumed as a tea and used as a face wash. For tea bring three cups of water to a rolling boil add in two teaspoons of seeds. Cover and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for thirty minutes. If available add in one teaspoon of leaves while tea is standing then strain.
Basil: Use basil based oil obtained from health food stores and apply to acne as directed. You can also make an infusion from dried basil leaves. Place two to four leaves in a cup of boiling water. Let stand for ten to twenty minutes and allow it cool down. Then apply to area of acne
Burdock: One of the most effective herbs for acne. It is used to treat all kinds of chronic skin problems. As a tea, bring one quart of water to a boil, reduce to simmer, add in four teaspoons of cut of the cut dried root, cover and simmer for seven minutes and remove from heat. Allow to stand for two hours. You can strain and consume the tea or use as a face wash.Sources: