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Severe Psoriasis Linked to Higher Death Risk

During 15-year study, chances of dying were 50% higher

MONDAY, Dec. 17, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Severe psoriasis may be associated with an increased risk of death, according to a University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study.

The report is published in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Psoriasis -- a common inflammatory disorder that affects the skin and joints -- has been linked with a number of other factors, including smoking, alcohol use and diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, according to background information in the study.

"In addition, certain systemic therapies for psoriasis may rarely be associated with mortality [death] due to chronic cumulative drug toxicity or idiosyncratic reactions, and the disease itself may lead to death in rare instances," the study authors wrote.

They analyzed data collected in the United Kingdom between 1987 and 2002 on 133,568 people with mild psoriasis (no history of treatment for the condition) and 3,951 people with severe psoriasis who'd received medications and other therapies. Each of these patients was compared with up to five patients without psoriasis.

During the study period, people with severe psoriasis were 50 percent more likely to die than those who didn't have psoriasis (21.3 deaths per 1,000 people per year versus 12 deaths per 1,000 people per year). Men with severe psoriasis died an average of 3.5 years younger than men without psoriasis, while women with severe psoriasis died an average of 4.4 years younger than women without the condition.

Mild psoriasis was not associated with increased risk of death, the researchers said.

"Further studies are necessary to determine the cause of excess mortality in patients with severe psoriasis, how the extent of skin disease affects mortality risk, and whether the risk of mortality in patients with severe psoriasis is altered by various systemic therapies," the study authors concluded. "Patients with severe psoriasis should receive comprehensive health assessments to enhance preventive health practices, improve overall health, and decrease the risk of mortality."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about psoriasis.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 13, 2007
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