Is there a link between Accutane, vitamin D, & suicide?

A lot of attention has been paid to the recent research published online at British Medical Journal’s web site indicating that Accutane does not actually increase a patient’s risk of suicide. Instead, the article surmises, individuals taking Accutane are desperate to get rid of their acne. They have often suffered with severe acne for years. When they find that they don’t get the results from Accutane that they had dreamed of, they feel that they have hit a brick wall. This mental health condition, not the drug, has been blamed for increased suicide rates among people taking Accutane.

I think that’s a fairly convincing argument.. but apparently there is at least one more possibility.

Food Consumer reports that previous research suggests that acne medications such as Accutane reduce the active portion of vitamin D in a patient’s body. The article goes on to cite research showing that there is a connection between vitamin D deficiency and suicide. If this is true, then the real cause behind increased risks of suicide for Accutane patients could be that they simply need to take vitamin D supplements.

This does not, however, explain why many Accutane patients had increased risks of suicide a full six months before they started taking the drug. It could, however, show that vitamin D deficiency gave them the push that they needed to finally turn suicide ideation into act.

The article also suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can reduce acne in some people. I’m not expert enough on vitamins to know whether that’s accurate. It would seem particularly troublesome to me, though, to find that not only the suicide but the acne as well could have been prevented by a small supplement.


One Response

  1. There is a lot of support for both of the following:
    Low Vitamin D ==> Acne, and Low vitamin D ==>suicide
    – and
    Acne ==> Acutane ==> Low vitamin D ==> suicide

    Support for each hypothesis is at

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