The patchy, itchy skin caused by psoriasis may also be a symptom of larger health problems, new research suggests. Medical investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found patients with psoriasis are more likely to also have at least one other major medical disease.
The findings, published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, strongly linked the skin condition to an increased risk of other diseases affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas.
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"As we identify additional diseases linked to psoriasis, patients and physicians need to be aware of the increased odds of serious [other] illnesses, which is especially important in severe cases," said Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology.
"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."
To reach their conclusions, Gelfand and colleagues surveyed general practitioners caring for 9,035 patients with mild, moderate, and severe disease psoriasis.
The results showed significant associations were found between psoriasis and a range of diseases, including chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, mild liver disease, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, renal disease, and other rheumatologic diseases.
Although psoriasis is thought of as a skin and joint disease, the new research suggests there are larger systemic effects of this chronic inflammatory.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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