Psoriasis and diabetes have been linked in two recent large studies. WebMD reported on a Danish study where researchers examined about 4.5 million Danish national health records over the course of 13 years. More than 52,000 people were diagnosed with psoriasis and 6,784 of that group had severe psoriasis.
“People with psoriasis were 56% more likely to develop diabetes than people without the skin disorder. The risk was 49% greater for people with mild psoriasis and two times higher for people with severe psoriasis. Most cases were type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Ole Ahlehoff, one of the researchers said.
Aheloff explained that psoriasis, which affects 125 million people worldwide, is an inflammatory disorder. Diabetes also has an inflammatory component so it is not surprising that psoriasis could be a risk factor for new onset diabetes.
Another meta-analysis study led by April Armstrong, assistant professor of dermatology at UC Davis analyzed 27 studies linking psoriasis in 314,000 individuals with diabetes.
"Our investigation found a clear association between psoriasis and diabetes," said Armstrong.
The combined data showed that patients with mild psoriasis are over 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than the general population. Those with severe disease were almost twice as likely.
When the researchers examined studies that just measured incidence, they found that patients with psoriasis were 27 percent more likely to develop diabetes than the general population, specifically type 2 diabetes.
The takeaway from these two large studies is that psoriasis cannot be thought of as just a skin disease. Having psoriasis means one is at greater risk of developing diabetes.
The fact that psoriasis and diabetes have been found to be linked does not mean psoriasis causes diabetes. The studies were not able to measure that. However, the risk of developing diabetes is significantly high, up to twice the risk in some cases.
Further studies will be needed investigate whether the connection is shared inflammatory processes, genetics or something else not readily apparent.