Psoriasis Linked to Heart Disease, Cancer

Studies Also Show Link to Increased Risk of Diabetes and Depression

From the WebMD Archives


Over an average period of about two-and-one-half years, 34.8% of people with psoriasis were diagnosed with cancer. In contrast, only 23.2% of those without the skin condition developed cancer. That translated to a 56% higher risk of cancer for people with psoriasis, the researchers report.

As for types of cancer, people with psoriasis had a 75% higher risk for skin cancer, 87% higher risk for lymphoma, and 22% higher risk for prostate cancer, the study showed.

Some of the treatments used for psoriasis may have increased their risk of skin cancer, says Alan Menter, MD, chair of the psoriasis research unit at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas. But the link to the other cancers can't be explained by therapy, he says.

Psoriasis Linked to Obesity, Depression

The list of medical conditions associated with psoriasis doesn't end there, Menter says.

Among others, he tells WebMD, are obesity, Crohn's disease, diabetes, depression, sexual dysfunction, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In addition, studies have shown that people with psoriasis tend to drink and smoke a lot, Menter says. Detrimental behaviors can aggravate some conditions associated with psoriasis, such as heart disease and COPD, he says.

According to Ahlehoff, the underlying inflammation that drives the development of psoriasis appears to predispose people to cardiovascular disease, which also is thought to be fueled by inflammation.

But in the case of the other medical conditions, "we are unsure whether psoriasis causes other diseases or that these other diseases cause psoriasis," Menter says.

The important thing is that people with psoriasis undergo a thorough health evaluation, he says.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on March 15, 2010



68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Miami Beach, Fla. March 5-9, 2010.

American College of Cardiology's 59th Annual Scientific Session, Atlanta, March 14-16, 2010.

Ole Ahlehoff, MD, research fellow, department of cardiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.

Carol Bau, MD, Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.

Alan Menter, MD, chair, psoriasis research unit, Baylor Research Institute, Dallas.

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