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What increases my risk for plaque psoriasis?

Obesity can increase the risk of psoriasis in certain populations. Definitive research has shown that increased cellular fat storage and weight gain, two common features of obesity, are associated with an increased risk of psoriasis in women. In other populations, studies have only shown that obesity and plaque psoriasis are associated, not that they have a cause and effect relationship.

Dr. Mark W. Moronell, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Researchers believe that for a person to develop psoriasis, the individual must have a combination of the genes that cause psoriasis and be exposed to specific external factors known as “triggers.”

Triggers include stress, skin injuries and medications, including Lithium, which is used to treat manic depression and other psychiatric disorders. Lithium aggravates psoriasis in about half of those with psoriasis who take it.

Antimalarial drugs, such as Plaquenil, Quinacrine, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, Inderal, Quinidine and Indomethacin can also trigger psoriasis.

Scientists believe that at least 10 percent of the general population inherits one or more of the genes that create a predisposition to psoriasis. However, only 2 to 3 percent of the population develops the disease.

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

Studies indicate that obesity may have a link with psoriasis. About 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis also get psoriatic arthritis a chronic (long-term) and painful immune system disease. A new study published in the Archives of Dermatology, found that of the 943 people with psoriasis who enrolled in the Utah Psoriasis Initiative, over one/fourth or 26.5 percent had psoriatic arthritis. The researchers identified certain risk factors that may predict who would get psoriatic arthritis, including the person's body mass index at age 18, a younger age of getting psoriasis, gender (being female) and having larger body areas affected by psoriasis. Individuals in the study who were overweight or obese had the earliest onset of psoriatic arthritis. Twenty percent of participants who were overweight or obese at age 18 developed psoriatic arthritis by age 35.

Anyone may get plaque psoriasis but there are a number of factors that increase risk. One factor is family history. You are much more likely to get this skin disorder if a close family member has it. Having HIV or recurrent infections, like strep throat, is also a risk factor, as is light-colored skin. Stress, because it weakens the immune system, increases the possibility of getting this disorder. Certain medicines, like anti-malarial drugs, beta blockers, cancer chemotherapy and lithium, may trigger psoriasis. Smoking and obesity are also likely to increase risk. Most people who get psoriasis are between the ages of 15 and 35 when it first appears.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.