Psoriasis tied to higher risk for type 2 diabetes

Risk is highest with severe psoriasis; patients need to be screened for diabetes

People with psoriasis have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. The study's lead researcher, Dr. Joel Gelfand, a dermatologist at the University of Pennsylvania and former member of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board, says psoriasis patients are at higher risk even if they don't have traditional diabetes risk factors, such as obesity.

The study, published online in the Archives of Dermatology, compared data on 108,000 psoriasis patients with that of 430,000 people without psoriasis. It found that those with severe psoriasis were 46 percent more likely to have type 2 diabetes and should be screened for the condition. Mild psoriasis resulted in an 11 percent increase in diabetes.

Whole-body inflammation is present in both psoriasis and diabetes, which may explain the link between the two diseases, researchers noted in a press release. They added that inflammation can result in insulin resistance, which is a cause of type 2 diabetes.

Know the warning signs of type 2 diabetes and get screened 
National Psoriasis Foundation encourages people with psoriasis to be screened by their doctor for type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: 

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and irritability
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

ADA also notes that people with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms. Therefore, it's important for psoriasis patients to work closely with their doctors to reduce their diabetes risk, such as by eating a healthy diet, getting consistent exercise and having regular screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Obesity is a risk factor for psoriasis as well as diabetes, so people with psoriasis should try and maintain a healthy weight to prevent diabetes, Gelfand said.

June 21, 2012

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

Over the last 50 years, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) has become the world’s leading nonprofit patient advocacy organization fighting for individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. NPF leads this fight by driving efforts for a cure and improving the lives of the more than 8 million Americans affected by this chronic disease. To date, NPF has funded more than $15 million in research grants and fellowships, and to commemorate 50 years, NPF plans to raise an additional $2 million for early scientific career research programs in 2017 alone. Each year, NPF strives to support, educate and advocate on behalf of more individuals living with or caring for someone with the disease than ever before. As part of that effort, NPF established the Patient Navigation Center to offer personalized assistance to everyone with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Join our community today and help drive discovery and create community for all living with psoriatic disease.