Psoriasis severity is linked to an increased comorbid presence of kidney, liver, and pancreatic diseases. In the study published in JAMA Dermatology, the researchers uncovered that psoriasis severity – measured by the percentage of the affected body surface – is strongly associated with a higher risk of comorbidities, including those that affect the lungs, liver, kidney, heart, and pancreas.
The researchers surveyed general practitioners caring for psoriasis patients. They found significant correlations between psoriasis severity and other conditions like COPD, diabetes, mild liver disease, myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, renal disease, and other rheumatologic diseases.
Study author Joel M. Gelfand said, “As we identify additional diseases linked to psoriasis, patients and physicians need to be aware of the increased odds of serious comorbid illnesses, which is especially important in severe cases. 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.”
Although psoriasis primarily affects the skin, the correlation may be due to the fact that it is associated with widespread inflammation within the body, which can contribute to other health conditions. Furthermore, many of these diseases share a common pathway – TH-1 – which is known to promote inflammation and insulin resistance.
Psoriasis and comorbid diseases
Nearly 30 percent of psoriasis patients will develop psoriatic arthritis, which puts them at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, and other health conditions. These include:
- Cancer – lymphoma and melanoma
- Cardiovascular disease – patients with severe psoriasis have a 58 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and 43 percent more likely to suffer stroke
- Crohn’s disease – in women with psoriasis, roughly 10 percent will also develop an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, as patients with either condition share common genetic mutations
- Depression – psoriasis patients are at a higher risk for depression, while treating psoriasis may lower their risk
- Diabetes – psoriasis contributes to inflammation and insulin resistance, which can cause diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome – a study of a national sample of 6,500 psoriasis patients found that 40 percent of them had metabolic syndrome, compared to 23 percent in the general public. Metabolic syndrome includes heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure
- Obesity – studies have shown psoriasis patients are more likely to be obese
- Osteoporosis – a small study found that 60 percent of psoriasis patients had osteopenia, which is an early sign of future osteoporosis, while 18 percent already had osteoporosis
- Uveitis –seven percent of psoriasis patients will develop this inflammatory eye disease
- Liver disease – patients with psoriatic arthritis are at a higher risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Knowing your risk factors for these comorbid conditions can prompt you to take the necessary steps towards risk reduction by partaking in a healthy lifestyle and properly managing your psoriasis.