Saturday, May 30, 2009

Psoriasis may lead to bigger health problems

A study performed by Harvard Medical School researchers suggests that psoriasis may be linked to increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure among women. Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by an overactive immune system, where skin cells divide faster than the skin can shed them. The result is a rash of scaly, itchy red patches on the surface of the skin. This condition affects up to 3% of the U.S. population.

The 14-year Harvard study included 78,000 female nurses who originally did not have either diabetes or high blood pressure. The study found psoriasis linked to a 63% higher chance of women developing these health problems, and that percentage remained high even when including other risk factors such as smoking.

Since psoriasis is an inflammatory immune system response, researchers believe this may be the cause of the increase in diabetes and high blood pressure.

Inflammation is known to contribute to high blood pressure and possibly insulin resistance. The researchers also noted that the use of steroids and other medications to treat psoriasis may be a risk factor that leads to diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study concluded that further research is needed to determine the extent of the relationship between psoriasis, treatment methods, and these health issues. In addition, more research is needed to know whether treating psoriasis may help prevent diabetes and high blood pressure from developing in patients who have the condition.

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