NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Acne can be embarrassing and annoying, but now there may be a deadly disease associated with the skin condition.

For many, acne is yet another unpleasant aspect of their teen years. But now, certain acne sufferers may also be at risk to develop cancer later in life, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported.

A recent study found an increased possibility of melanoma for certain acne sufferers. It may not be related to the acne itself, but the cause of the acne in the first place.

“When you have excess acne, you probably have excess hormones as well,” Dr. Brian Horvath said.

Researchers followed a group of about 100,000 nurses for 20 years starting in 1989. They watched different types of cancer, including melanoma, and took note of any history of severe teenage acne, the kind with cysts and boils.

“Of those 100,000, around 350 ended up developing melanoma. That’s about a one and a half times higher rate than you’d expect,” Horvath said.

Allison Santhouse is a physician’s assistant at New York Dermatology Center and agrees that in some cases, excess hormones can stimulate and change the appearance of moles.

“We already know the more moles somebody has the higher risk they are of developing melanoma in the future. So young women who have a history of acne may already have an increased number of moles and that is most likely the link,” Santhouse explained.

She said it’s imperative to be vigilant about watching for changes on your skin.

“Anyone who has an increased number of moles may want to get checked every six months to eight months, a little bit more frequently,” she said.

Santhouse adds that, no matter what, sun protection should always be a priority.

“The same thing we always suggest: wear sunscreen SPF 30 and above broad spectrum sunscreen,” she said.

Researchers are now advancing their study and taking a look at whether altering those hormones might reduce the overall cancer risk.


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