It would seem to be an unlikely connection, but now researchers are fairly confident in saying that women with psoriasis face a higher-than-average risk of Crohn's disease. The connection has occasionally been observed by medical practitioners over the years.
Doctors have noticed that women with psoriasis -- a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that typically affects the elbows, knees, scalp and trunk -- sometimes go on to develop Crohn's disease, one of the two major inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
The new data on a psoriasis-IBD link, compiled from two studies at Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, were announced at a recent Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting.
Dr. Abrar A. Qureshi, senior researcher for both studies, noted that even though the results are preliminary and await publication in a peer-reviewed journal, the overlap between the two conditions is beginning to make sense.
"The inflammatory pathways that have been identified at the genetic level in genome-wide association studies make sense as well because there is overlap in the interleukin-12 and interleukin-23 pathways in psoriasis and Crohn's disease," Qureshi told MedPage Today.
Specifically, the data showed that women with psoriasis had a four-fold increase in the risk of Crohn's disease. In addition, one of the studies showed a 13 percent prevalence rate for psoriasis among patients presenting with IBD.
Data came from the more than 174,000 participants in the years-long Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHS II.
The researchers also looked at inflammatory/psoriatic arthritis in relation to IBD and psoriasis and theorized that all have a common pathway at the genetic and molecular level.
In comparisons of those having or not having psoriasis, the data showed that the psoriasis population tended to be older, with a higher body mass index and a history of smoking. Also, they were less active and consumed more alcohol.
As any health professional will tell you, both psoriasis and Crohn's disease are chronic conditions meriting a doctor's attention.