Psoriasis and Metabolic Syndrome Often Paired, Study Finds

January 7, 2011

The condition known as metabolic syndrome and its components—obesity, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, low HDL or "good" cholesterol, and hypertension (high blood pressure)—occurs in roughly 15 to 24 percent of the general population. Research shows that metabolic syndrome may occur more often among people with psoriasis.

To determine if a link exists between psoriasis and metabolic syndrome, researchers used data from the 2003–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationwide group of studies designed to collect health and nutritional information on adults and children in the United States.

The researchers selected 6,549 men and women aged 20 to 59 years from the NHANES directory. The participants were questioned about any diagnosis of psoriasis; they also submitted to a blood test to check for symptoms related to metabolic syndrome.

The study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, found that 40 percent of the participants with psoriasis also had symptoms of metabolic syndrome; only 23 percent of the people without psoriasis had metabolic syndrome.

When these numbers were extrapolated to the U.S. population as a whole, 2.7 million people with psoriasis were estimated to also have metabolic syndrome—"nearly a million more individuals than would be expected from individuals without psoriasis," the study authors wrote.

Because metabolic syndrome is a serious ailment that can involve potentially life-threatening complications, the study authors believe all people who are diagnosed with psoriasis should be screened for other conditions like

  • high triglyceride levels (150 mg/dL or above),
  • low levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL in men; 50 mg/dL in women),
  • high blood pressure (130/85 mm Hg or above),
  • abdominal obesity (i.e., having a waist circumference greater than 102 centimeters for men or 88 centimeters for women),
  • and diabetes.

Treating these conditions, particularly through weight loss, can also make psoriasis treatments more effective, the authors noted.

Source: Thorvardur Jon Love, MD, MMSc; Abrar A. Qureshi, MD, MPH; Elizabeth Wood Karlson, MD; Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE; Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH. "Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in Psoriasis: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006." Archives of Dermatology. Published online December 20, 2010. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.370

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 07 Jan 2011

Last Modified: 22 Jan 2015