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Psoriasis tied to higher risk of diabetes

People with the chronic skin condition psoriasis may be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as well, according to a new study ofthe medical records of more than half a million Britons.

Researchers found that was especially true in those with severe psoriasis, who were 46 percent more likely to get a diabetes diagnosis than people without the condition, after weight and other health measures were taken into account.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than three percent of adults in the United States have psoriasis, which is characterized by itchy, painful plaques on the skin. Studies have suggested the condition is tied to a higher chance of having heart disease or suffering a heart attack or stroke (see Reuters Health story of January 10, 2012.)

And smaller reports have hinted at a link between psoriasis and diabetes as well, researchers wrote online Monday in the Archives of Dermatology.

“We already know that some of the risk factors for psoriasis and diabetes are similar, like weight,” said Dr. Rahat Azfar, the lead author on the study from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

But with the new findings, she told Reuters Health, “We do think that psoriasis itself makes people at higher risk.”

That means those with psoriasis, especially severe psoriasis, should take extra precautions to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to ward off diabetes, Azfar added.

Other factors

For the new study, she and her colleagues consulted five years’ worth of electronic medical records from about 108,000 adults in the UK with psoriasis and another four times as many without the condition. None of them had diabetes at the outset.

The researchers found slightly more of the psoriasis group was diagnosed with diabetes over the course of the study – 3.7 percent of them, compared with 3.4 percent of the comparison group.

When patients’ age, weight and high blood pressure were accounted for, psoriasis was still tied to a higher chance of developing diabetes, especially among the 6,200 people with severe psoriasis. In that group, 6.3 percent of patients were diagnosed with diabetes.

Two of the researchers disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including those that make diabetes and psoriasis drugs.

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