Patients with psoriasis have a significantly increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to a new study from Taiwan.
Psoriasis is a genetic disease caused by environmental factors, scientists believe. Common symptoms include a reddish, scaly rash, with itching and flaking skin. It is not contagious. Psoriasis is caused by the autoimmune system attacking skin cells, and it cannot yet be completely cured.
Having analyzed data from over 270,000 patients with psoriasis, the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan found that compared with the general population, psoriasis patients had a 1.16-fold increased risk of colorectal cancer, with women having a 1.41-fold increased risk. The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Study author Dr. Ching-Chi Chi, an attending physician in the Department of Dermatology, speculated that the association between psoriasis and colorectal cancer is owing to an increase in the cytokine interleukin, which has been proved to be associated with colorectal cancer. In addition, inflammation can lead to changes in the composition of intestinal bacteria. However, more research is needed.
Previous studies have found that psoriasis patients have a higher risk of inflammatory bowel diseases, Chi noted. For example, the chance of developing Crohn’s disease is 2.53 times higher than normal, and the chance of developing ulcerative colitis is 1.71 times higher than normal.
As psoriasis is not only a skin disease but also a disorder of the immune system, psoriasis sufferers can also develop complications, such as conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome.
Psoriasis can cause inflammation of the endothelium of the blood vessels and cause blood clots, said Chi. It can also lead to heart attacks, high blood lipids, and high blood pressure. Therefore, patients with psoriasis who are not regularly tracked and treated for cardiovascular problems can have their life expectancy reduced by five to eight years on average.
In addition, patients with psoriasis may suffer from chronic kidney disease, asthma, liver cirrhosis, and joint diseases.
“These symptoms seem to be unrelated to psoriasis, so treatment is often delayed,” Chi said.
Although psoriasis is not life-threatening, it has a direct impact on one’s physical and mental health. The researchers urged people with psoriasis to have regular health check-ups to avoid chronic diseases and seek medical attention if they note any problems.