Being overweight may raise women’s psoriasis risk
Women who are overweight or obese may face a higher risk of developing the psoriasis, a common skin condition, a large study suggests.
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease that, in most cases, causes patches of skin to become red, itchy and covered in silvery scales. It’s caused by an abnormal immune system reaction that accelerates the growth of new skin cells.
Past studies have found that people with psoriasis have elevated rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. But it has not been clear whether excess weight can raise a person’s risk of psoriasis.
For the new study, researchers at Harvard University in Boston used data from nearly 79,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II, an ongoing project that has followed the health of a large sample of U.S. female nurses since 1989.
They found that women who were initially overweight were 40 percent more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to develop psoriasis over the next 14 years. The odds were slightly higher still for obese women, while those who were morbidly obese were almost three times as likely as normal-weight women to develop the skin disease.
In addition, weight gain since young adulthood was linked to a rising psoriasis risk, Dr. Arathi R. Setty and colleagues report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Excess body fat triggers an overproduction of certain inflammatory substances in the body, which may explain the increased psoriasis risk, according to the researchers.
The findings raise the possibility that weight loss would help prevent or treat some cases of psoriasis, Setty’s team suggests. There have been reported cases in which severely obese patients had their psoriasis completely resolve after successful weight-loss surgery, the researchers note.
“Weight loss” they conclude, “may be a potential target for the prevention and management of psoriasis.”
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, August 13/27, 2007.
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