New study shows people with psoriasis face an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on November 28, 2017

People with the skin condition psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those without and the risk increases dramatically based on the severity of the disease, new research has found.

Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system in which inflammation causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal. They cause raised, red patches covered by silvery scales when they reach the surface of the skin and die.


(Ternavskaia Olga Alibec/

‘The type of inflammation seen in psoriasis is known to promote insulin resistance, and psoriasis and diabetes share similar genetic mutations suggesting a biological basis for the connection between the two conditions we found in our study,’ said senior author Dr. Joel Gelfand, professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

‘We know psoriasis is linked to higher rates of diabetes, but this is the first study to specifically examine how the severity of the disease affects a patient’s risk,’ he explained.

‘These findings are independent of traditional risk factors for diabetes and still show a strong connection between the increasing severity of psoriasis and the increasing risk of developing diabetes, which makes a strong argument for a causal relationship between the two,,’ he pointed out.

The researchers found that people with psoriasis that covers 10% of their body or more are 64% more likely to develop diabetes than those without psoriasis, independent of traditional risk factors such as body weight.

Applying the study’s findings to the number of people who have psoriasis worldwide would equate to 125,650 new cases of diabetes attributable to psoriasis per year.

As a result of the study Gelfand believes that people with psoriasis should be checked routinely for how much of their body is affected by the disease. In addition, these patients should be targeted for diabetes prevention, especially those with psoriasis on 10% or more of their body.

In order to measure psoriasis severity, Gelfand and his team used body surface area (BSA), which measures the percentage of the body covered by psoriasis. Using a United Kingdom database, they surveyed general practitioners about BSA affected by psoriasis and looked at data on 8,124 adults with psoriasis and 76,599 adults without psoriasis over the course of four years, and they adjusted the samples to account for any differences in age, sex, and body mass index and other diabetes risk factors.

They found patients with a BSA of 2% or less had a relative risk of 1.21 for developing diabetes, meaning their risk is 21% higher than those without psoriasis. This risk increased dramatically in patients with a BSA of 10% or more. On average, 5.97 out of every 1,000 people will get diabetes in a given year. In the population of patients with a BSA greater than 10 percent, that number jumps to 12.22 per 1,000 people.

That group had a relative risk of 1.64, or 64% higher than patients with no psoriasis at all. Further, they found that for every 10% increase in BSA beyond the initial 10%, the relative risk increased by another 20%. In other words, patients with 20% BSA were at almost an 84% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, patients with 30% BSA were at a 104% higher risk, and so on.


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Diabetes Risk Increased by Psoriasis

June 26, 2012 News

In a recent study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, psoriasis has been determined as an independent risk for Type 2 diabetes. The greatest risk has been seen in patients suffering from severe psoriasis with researchers estimating that an additional 115,000 individuals would develop diabetes each year due to […]

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