April 20, 2009 -- Women who have the chronic skin condition psoriasis appear
to be at higher risk of getting diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study
"We knew there was some association between psoriasis and diabetes and high
blood pressure," says Abrar Qureshi, MD, MPH, assistant professor of
dermatology at Harvard Medical School and a dermatologist at Brigham and
Women's Hospital, Boston. "The question was, which came first."
In the study, he tells WebMD, "We were able to show women with psoriasis had
a higher risk of developing diabetes and hypertension."
The study is published in the April issue of the Archives of
Qureshi and colleagues studied 78,061 women who participated in the Nurses'
Health Study II, a long-running study that first collected data in 1989 from
more than 116,000 women (all registered nurses) and followed up with
questionnaires about their health every two years.
All were free of diabetes and high blood pressure at the study's start. In
2005, the women reported whether they had ever gotten a diagnosis of psoriasis
from a doctor. After excluding the women who already had diabetes or
hypertension, the researchers focused on 78,061 women, including 1,813 with a
diagnosis of psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects up to 3% of the population, according to the researchers.
Five types occur, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, with
different symptoms and signs. The most common is plaque psoriasis, marked by
itchy patches of red, raised skin covered by a silvery-white scale that shows
up most often on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back.