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Inflammation Causes: Is Psoriasis Triggered by Excess Pounds?

Study Calculates Risk Increases with Higher Body Mass Index Numbers

Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disorder, affects 2% to 4% of the population worldwide, with a particularly high incidence—up to 11% by some estimates—in Norway. In an effort to better understand the environmental and inherited contributors to the condition, a research team led by Mari Løset, MD, PhD, with the Department of Dermatology at St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim investigated a previously noted relationship between overweight and incidence of psoriasis. "Higher BMI may contribute to increased inflammation of the skin, which can exacerbate psoriasis, but it could also be that psoriasis leads to a person being less physically active and thus gaining weight," Dr. Løset, also a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology, remarked. Conclusions from the team’s investigation were published in PLOS Medicine.

To better understand the causal relationship between BMI and psoriasis, Dr. Løset and colleagues applied Mendelian randomization to data from some 750,000 patient records from the Health Survey in Nord-Trøndelag (HUNT) and the UK Biobank. Dr. Løset explained, "Mendelian randomization means that nature itself distributes individuals randomly into groups based on genes. This way, we can avoid the results being influenced by external factors. Our understanding of how genes are related to disease is increasing at record speed, and in this study, we used known genetic variants as markers for BMI and psoriasis." The team concluded that each higher whole BMI number increases the risk for contracting psoriasis by 9%, although the mechanisms underlying the association are still unclear, nor has it been established that weight reduction could contribute to improvement in the condition.

Read about the research.

The journal article may be read here.

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