Mark Bond was diagnosed with severe psoriasis two years ago. The disease causes skin cells to grow rapidly, forming scales and red, itchy patches that can be painful.
"It's embarrassing," he said. "People see it and they don't know what it is."
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at more than 9,000 psoriasis patients. They found as the severity of the skin disease increased, so did the patients' chances of pulmonary disease, diabetes, liver disease, heart attack and vascular disease.
"If patients have severe disease that doesn't bother them they are often untreated," said Dr. Joel Gelfand, an author of the study. "And we don't know if that is potentially dangerous."
Psoriasis is the most common auto immune disease, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Past research has linked the chronic condition to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"We are concerned that the link between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease may be that inflammation is common to both conditions," Gelfand said.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but can treatment can alleviate symptoms. Bond had success with phototherapy which exposes the skin to UV light.
"It was three weeks, five days in a row, four hours in the morning. You put a light tar over your body and you soak in different lotions and get some light therapy and then after three weeks it cleared up," he said.
But after about three months, the psoriasis started coming back. So, Bond and his doctor will need to discuss his next treatment option.
Researchers are still trying to understand how treating psoriasis would affect inflammation throughout the body.
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