Saturday, May 21, 2011

Johnson & Johnson Financed Study Finds Their Cellulite Creme to be Effective: Reductions in Orange Peel and Synergistic Effects of Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Caffeine, Carnitine, Forskolin and Retinol based Commercial Product on Orange Peel

Image 1: ROC anti-cellulite
intensive cream
; supposedly,
the product used in this study

I've said this before, but in a different context: I love companies who do even try to back their products by scientific studies and thus I cannot really decry Johnson & Johnson for funding a study on one of their products, the name of which - and this is interesting - is yet not even mentioned in the respective publication (Roure. 2011) in the May issue of the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

While parts of the study were done ex vivo and in the petri dish, the interesting part, i.e. the part, I want to focus on, was an in vivo study with female 78 subjects (mean ages: placebo, 38y / product, 41y) who matched the following criteria:
Participants in the study were required to have a body mass index (BMI = weight height−2) between 20.0 and 26.0 kg m−2 and to present a modest amount of orange peel on the hips, buttocks, stomach and thighs (grades 2 ‘orange peel visible with pinching’ or 3 ‘padded skin and/or orange peel appearance visible without pinching’ according to the Curri’s classification [1]. In addition, all participants had not been on a weight-loss diet or had not received a spa treatment within 3 months of beginning the study. Individuals also refrained from using anti-cellulite and moisturizing products 1 month prior to the study.
While the "active" product contained he contained tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine, caffeine, carnitine, forskolin and retinol and hydroxyethyl urea and glycerine for moisturizing purposes, the placebo was "a basic gel with the same texture containing mainly water, gelifying and preservative systems".  The evaluation of the status / change of cellulite was conducted by "a trained grader" who graded "tonicity’, ‘orange peel aspect’ (pinched skin) and ‘stubborn cellulite’ [...] using an analogical scale (from 0 ‘no intensity’ to 10 ‘maximum intensity’) on hips, buttocks, stomach and the thigh" of the participants (notice, this is obviously a "subjective" measurement method).

Figure 1: Improvements in "stubborn cellulite" on various body parts after 4 and 12 weeks of treatment
(data adapted from Roure. 2011)
If you have a closer look at the data in figure 1 the long-term effects of the anti-cellulite treatment cannot be denied. This does however not hold true for reductions in the circumferences of measured body parts, i.e. arm abdomen, thigh, hips-buttocks and waist. These were similarly reduced in both placebo and anti-cellulite treatment:
In the placebo group, significant reduction in the circumference occurred in four of the six measured body areas after 8 weeks of application. The two largest circumferential decreases were observed for the abdomen (−0.8 cm in average; 88.5% of subjects improved) and the hips-buttocks area (−0.5 cm in average; 60% of the subjects improved). After 12 weeks, the circumference of three areas (arm, abdomen and top of the thigh) was significantly decreased.
Moreover, it is questionable whether a similar subjectively rated reduction in cellulite would not have been achievable with a "placebo" that was more than "water, gelifying and preservative systems", that, for example, would have contained at least the same basic moisturizers, of which the scientists silently assume that they had no effect on the effectiveness of the product. In that case, all the expensive additional ingredients, on the basis of which one would guess that the product under study (name is not mentioned in the publication) is ROC's anti-cellulite intensive cream (cf. image 1), would in fact be superfluous.

I guess, ladies, in the end its up to you, whether you chose to invest the extra bucks and buy an "innovative" product with striking resemblances to some of the good old topical fat burners the supplement market has been offering all along. If you were my girlfriend, I would rather buy you a high quality moisturizing cream to massage you with, after indulging a delicious high protein, low(er) carb dinner with lots of cellulite-killing good fats, leafy vegetables and reasonable amounts of fruit.