Your zits deserve an apology for all those times you cursed their existence. According to new research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, people who suffer from acne are actually genetically #blessed. Apparently, those annoying, persistent blemishes indicate that you probably have long telomeres in your white blood cells.
What, you ask, is a telomere? Telomeres are a protective component of DNA strands. The length of a cell’s telomeres can determine its lifespan. As we grow older, our telomeres deteriorate, shorten and become less effective at safeguarding our cells against aging. Thus, the longer your telomeres, the slower your overall aging process. (Research also suggests that long telomeres may help protect against cancer, so that’s something.)
In the study, scientists at King’s College examined the length of white blood cell telomeres in 1,205 twins, a quarter of whom had struggled with acne. They discovered that those who’d been plagued by zits in the past were more likely to house genes with longer telomeres. So, while high school may not have been so kind to them, 20 or 30 years down the road, they’ll get their comeuppance in the form of fewer wrinkles and younger-looking skin.
“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. Whilst this has been observed in clinical settings, the cause of this was previously unclear,” explained Simone Ribero, a dermatologist and lead author of the study.
Ribero continued, “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. By looking at skin biopsies, we were able to begin to understand the gene expressions related to this.”
Unfortunately, we do have to take these findings with a grain of salt, given that the scientists only examined female subjects and did not prove a causal relationship between telomere length and acne, just a correlational one. Plus, we can’t entirely trust the twins’ subjective accounts of their personal struggles with acne.
All in all, though, we’d say this is one heck of a potential silver lining. Praise be to pimples.
[ via the Cut ]