If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, here’s something else for your to-do list: get checked for osteoporosis. A recent study has found a high prevalence of osteopenia, an early form of the bone disease osteoporosis, in people with psoriatic disease.
Researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome looked for signs of osteoporosis and osteopenia in 43 psoriatic disease patients. Sixty percent of the patients had osteopenia, while in 18 percent, the condition had progressed to osteoporosis, according to the results.
The study appeared last month in the Journal of Dermatology.
Among the patients involved in the study, the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis increased the longer someone had psoriatic disease, going up 5 percent for every year since diagnosis, the researchers report.
In addition, even though bone loss is generally considered to affect women more than men, the researchers actually identified more men than women with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
“Patients with psoriasis seem to be at high risk for developing osteopenia, especially if suffering from psoriasis for a long time,” said Sara D’Epiro, a co-author of the study. “These findings place attention on under-recognized and often untreated osteopenia and osteoporosis in both female and male psoriasis patients.”
D’Epriro recommended that psoriatic disease patients, especially those with a long history of the disease, should get screened for bone loss.
Osteoporosis and osteopenia cause bones to become thin and weak, resulting in a loss of bone density. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or some form of low bone mass.
The inflammation caused by psoriatic disease could be one reason patients are more at risk for bone loss, the researchers noted. As they reported in the study, several cytokines, or pro-inflammatory proteins, involved in psoriatic disease are also involved in osteoporosis.
The researchers thought that bone density loss would occur more often in people with psoriatic arthritis than psoriasis alone, due to increased joint pain and inflammation, D’Epiro said. Although their results did not identify a higher prevalence in the 19 psoriatic arthritis patients included in the study, she recommended that future research examine a possible connection.
Because this study involved a fairly small number of patients, D’Epiro also noted that larger studies are needed to corroborate these findings.