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Psoriasis May be Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes

Diane Fennell

June 22, 2012

Many of us are familiar with the conditions that are typically mentioned as risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, such as family history of the disease, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, and low levels of physical activity, to name just a few. Recently, researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania added another, perhaps surprising, Type 2 risk factor to the list: psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a skin disease affecting roughly 5 million Americans that results when skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin before they have the chance to mature, causing itchy or sore plaques to form. This process is caused by a dysfunction in the immune system, in which a type of cell known as a T cell becomes so active that it triggers inflammation and the rapid turnover of skin cells. Psoriasis has previously been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.

To evaluate the connection between psoriasis and Type 2 diabetes (which is also associated with chronic inflammation), researchers compared 108,132 people with psoriasis to 430,716 people without psoriasis. They determined that those with mild psoriasis had an 11% increased chance of developing Type 2, while those with severe psoriasis had a 46% higher risk compared to people without psoriasis. They also discovered that people with both psoriasis and diabetes were more likely to be prescribed medicines to control their blood glucose than people with just diabetes.

“These data suggest that patients with psoriasis are at increased risk for developing diabetes even if they don’t have common risk factors such as obesity,” notes senior author Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE. “Patients with psoriasis should eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and see their physician for routine preventative health screenings such as checks of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.”

According to the researchers, an estimated 115,500 people a year worldwide will develop Type 2 as a result of psoriasis.

For more information, read the article “Psoriasis Increases Risk of Diabetes, Study Shows” or see the study in the Archives of Dermatology. And for more about skin care and diabetes, check out the article “Diabetes and Your Skin” by dermatologist May Leveriza-Oh.

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