Psoriasis May be Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes

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.

  • Teresa

    I have type 2 diabetes and do not have this risk factor, but my husband, who also has type 2 diabetes,(as well as a close friend,)both have this condition and had it long before they were diagnosed with diabetes. Interesting information.

  • Diane Wickham

    I have Type 2 and currently not on meds, just diet controlled. I noticed that after I got my sugars controlled my scalp started breaking down. Nothing seems to help. I get red bumps, they itch, then break and scab. Is this a form of psoriasis and will it continue?

  • James Bradley

    I’ve had mild to moderate psoriasis since age 18. I’m now 61. At age 54 I was diagnosed with T2D which really surprised me. During my treatment for my skin disorder I had been taking betemethasone for a number of years with decent results. About a 1 1/2 years ago I was reading the cautionary topics of the medication and discovered there was a link in psoriasis and T2D due to long term use of the medication. My diabetes was discovered while under going treatment for high cholesterol and high blood pressure all of which are now know side effects of betamethasone.I was outraged to find out after all these years of use that these side effects are known and I was not informed.
    One of the commonalities between these two disorders is the T-cell. If the T-cell can be controlled by medication for psoriasis could it then be assumed that someone with T2D would benefit as well. Are there tests in progress to create some type of drug for this?