Fact or Myth: Is Psoriasis Linked to Diabetes?

This is a FACT.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition that causes your body to produce new skin cells too quickly.  The result is severely dry skin that is flaky and red.  Some patients report that their skin burns, itches and hurts in general.

The Link between Psoriasis and Major Diseases

Once viewed as a cosmetic condition, scientists now consider psoriasis a systemic condition that can lead to other serious disorders and diseases.

Analyzing results of a study by the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, researchers concluded that psoriasis should be considered a major illness with far-reaching impact.

Diseases Associated with Psoriasis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Psoriatic arthritis

There is also an overall increase in mortality.  Patients with psoriasis are estimated to have a lifespan of 3-5 years less than those without the condition.

Explained Alan Menter, dermatologist and chair of the Psoriasis Research Unit at Baylor, “While we are unsure whether psoriasis causes other diseases or that these other diseases cause psoriasis, the fact that an association exists at all is critically important in treating psoriasis patients.”

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States – affecting 7.5 million people.  Experts estimate that 125 million people in the world suffer with psoriasis. psoriasis-and-diabetes

Psoriasis and Diabetes

The connection between psoriasis and diabetes was the focus of a UC Davis scientific review that included more than two dozen studies involving more than 300,000 participants.

Researchers found that patients with psoriasis developed diabetes at almost twice the rate of the general population.  Scientists discovered that the connection involves damaged immune pathways that increase diabetic risk.

April Armstrong, UC Davis assistant professor of dermatology, stated, “The large sample size and consistent association between psoriasis and diabetes make these study findings very strong and suggest an underlying physiological link between the two diseases.”

More research is needed to determine the reason behind this link but Armstrong and her team found “evidence that fat cells in psoriasis patients may not function normally…these cells secrete inflammatory substances known as cytokines that increase insulin resistance in the liver…and initiate destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”

Previous studies have discovered links between high blood pressure and psoriasis as well as increased risk of heart attack in those who have the skin condition.

Armstrong added that people who suffer from psoriasis should be aware of their higher diabetes risk and have themselves screened regularly to detect the disease early.

What Causes Psoriasis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the actual cause of psoriasis is unknown.  It is believed to be a reaction by your immune system to your environment.  However, approximately one-third of those diagnosed with the skin condition have a relative with psoriasis, which implies a genetic link in some cases.

There are triggers that can cause psoriasis initially or worsen the condition if you already have it.  Some patients are able to identify circumstances that aggravate their psoriasis, and actively avoid those triggers.

Common Psoriasis Triggers

  • System infections
  • Skin damage such as injury or sunburn
  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Medications such as ibuprofen and lithium
  • Extreme hot or cold weather

Many people who suffer with psoriasis develop symptoms of depression.  They may feel embarrassed and unattractive, which results in feelings of sadness and a sense of isolation.

Don’t allow psoriasis to remain untreated.  Talk to your doctor about treatment options that can give you back your quality of life – and possibly prevent more serious diseases from developing.