Psoriasis linked to metabolic syndrome and abdominal obesity

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A headline in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times titled “Psoriasis linked to heart disease, diabetes, other cardiovascular conditions” had ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross grumbling. “Psoriasis is associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity, according to the reported study results, but isn’t directly linked to adverse cardiovascular events,” he clarifies.

Such observations were based on a new study published in the Archives of Dermatology that analyzed data from 2,456 people who answered questions about psoriasis and also had their blood analyzed in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2006. Among those studied who did not have psoriasis — a common skin condition that causes skin redness and scaling — 23 percent were found to have metabolic syndrome, while among those with psoriasis, 40 percent suffered from the condition. In addition, 34 percent of psoriasis patients had lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) compared to 24 percent in the control group. They were also more likely to suffer from abdominal obesity — 63 percent versus 48 percent.

“The headline on this story indicates that psoriasis is linked to heart disease. That is a bit misleading: since metabolic syndrome and abdominal obesity are both associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the headline uses this information to say that psoriasis is also linked to heart disease, diabetes and other cardiovascular conditions, but this extrapolation is not necessarily valid,” explains Dr. Ross.