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Psoriasis Linked to Other Medical Conditions

Update Date: Aug 07, 2013 04:01 PM EDT

People with psoriasis are significantly more likely to suffer other medical conditions, according to a new study.

The study also found that the severity of psoriasis, as measured by the percentage of body surface area affected by the disease, was strongly linked to an increased presence of other diseases affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas.

Researchers surveyed doctors caring for 9,035 psoriasis patients.  The survey revealed that 52 percent of patients studied had mild disease, 36 percent had moderate disease and 12 percent had severe disease.

The study revealed that people with psoriasis are significantly more likely to suffer disease like chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, mild liver disease, myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, renal disease and other rheumatologic diseases.

"As we identify additional diseases linked to psoriasis, patients and physicians need to be aware of the increased odds of serious co-morbid illnesses, which is especially important in severe cases," senior study author, Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE, associate professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania said in a news release.

"The complications from diabetes and links to COPD, kidney disease and peptic ulcers we identified suggest new areas for research, while for the first time, demonstrating how increasing body surface area affected by psoriasis is directly associated with increasing risk of atherosclerotic disease," he added.

While psoriasis is commonly though of as a disease limited to skin and joints, previous studies linked the systemic effects of this chronic inflammatory disease to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Past research revealed that psoriasis suffers had a higher risk of diabetes, and the latest study revealed that additional diabetes-associated systemic complications, such as retinopathy and neuropathy, were correlated with the severity of psoriasis as well.

Researchers explain that the diseases share a common pathway called TH-1 cytokines, which is known to promote inflammation and insulin resistance. Gelfand and his team say that identifying these co-occurring diseases will help patients receive comprehensive care with proper health screening, evaluation and management.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

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