Does eating sugar cause wrinkles?

As an information hungry scientist and cosmetic science blogger, I see lots of stories about health and beauty.  There is a lot of nonsense out there and it’s difficult for a cosmetic chemist to find out what is really true.  Take this story for example.  Can eating too much sugar really cause wrinkles?

I had never heard of that and the fact that there was no reference to any study or anything made me a bit skeptical.  People are always looking for some reason to say ‘sugar is bad for you.’  Some want to demonize everything that brings happiness to people.

But I’m all about science and if the evidence indicates people should avoid excess sugar to prevent wrinkles, I’d happily change my ways.  Well, probably not because I personally don’t care much about wrinkles as I see them as inevitable, but I would start to advise people not to eat too much sugar.  Anyway…

Is this sugar / wrinkle connection real?

There are plenty of popular media types saying it is.  Dr. Oz says it’s true and so does Dr. Brandt.   Of course, just because these guys say it doesn’t make me any more inclined to believe it.

I need a better source than just Google and popular TV and book doctors.  How about some science?

The best place to search for science is PubMed but it is so technical that I’d have a tough time learning anything.  Next best option is to look at the press releases from Universities.  Do a Google search of the website

There’s a 1998 article that suggests Fructose may accelerate skin aging.  But the evidence is pretty weak and it was a rat study.  Nothing about humans.

I did a little more searching and found the FutureDerm blog and her analysis of whether sugar causes wrinkles.  I don’t look to her for the definitive word as she is just reporting on science that other people are doing but she raising some interesting ideas.  According to the research, glucose reacts with collagen to make it more stiff which can ultimately lead to more wrinkles.

While this is supported by lab data (it’s just a chemical reaction) there is also some data which suggests that cutting sugar out of your diet completely can cause even more damage to collagen.

Sweet wrinkles

So, I don’t really know what to think.  Certainly, I haven’t done enough research to come to a definitive conclusion.  But it seems like having no sugar in your diet is probably bad (from a wrinkle standpoint).  Although it would be nice to see a study of the skin of people on a long term Atkins diet.  Excessive sugar can cause changes in collagen structure which can lead to more wrinkles.  But there isn’t a study that compares the skin of people with high sugar diets to people with lower sugar diets.

I guess the answer is that it is complicated and I’m not going to feel too bad about occasionally eating a candy bar.  Nothing is better than a Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bar after a 20 mile run.

Cosmetic science

One of the main reasons for posting this entry is that I wanted to show how complicated subjects can be and how just looking something up on the Internet almost never gives you a definitive answer.  And just because Dr. Oz says something or an article is published on big website like MSNBC doesn’t mean that it is true.

What do you think?  Is sugar consumption causing people to have wrinkles?  Leave a comment below.


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