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Smoking May Make Psoriasis Worse

Heavy Smoking More Common Among People With Psoriasis

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 19, 2005 - Heavy smokers may be putting their skin at risk.

A new study shows people who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes per day were twice as likely to have severe psoriasis as those who smoked 10 cigarettes or less per day.

Researchers say the results suggest that cigarette smoking may exacerbate existing psoriasis, and highlights the need for people with the skin condition to quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for many other diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease, but little is known about its relationship to psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that is not contagious or life-threatening, but it causes itchy and sometimes embarrassing red, scaly patches on the skin. Psoriasis can also affect the nails and joints.

Smoking May Affect Skin

In the study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, researchers compared smoking history and severity of psoriasis in 818 adults with psoriasis.

The results showed that people who smoked heavily had twice the risk of severe psoriasis compared with light smokers.

In addition, an increasing number of cigarette-years (a measurement of both the intensity and duration of smoking) also raised the risk of severe psoriasis.

Researchers found that the effect of cigarette-years on psoriasis severity was stronger for women than for men. This means that present women smokers and recent quitters had a higher risk (72%) for worse psoriasis.

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Mark G. Lebwohl, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, says the study shows researchers still have a lot to learn about psoriasis. For example, the study does not answer whether psoriasis leads to smoking or smoking exacerbates psoriasis.

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