It's no secret that smoking damages your lungs and heart, not to mention boosts your risk of a number of different cancers. But the damage doesn't stop there - a number of studies have also linked this bad habit to an increased risk of psoriasis and triggers flare-ups.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks healthy tissues instead of invaders like germs, characterised by itchy, red, scaly skin.
“Smoking may trigger psoriasis, and the more you smoke, the worse the psoriasis can be,” explains Natasha Mesinkovska, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at UC Irvine School of Medicine in the United States. Keep reading to learn more about the smoking-psoriasis relationship.
Smokers have almost double the risk of developing psoriasis, studies have found…
There’s a body of research to prove that smoking increases your risk for psoriasis. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology
found that smokers were 50% more likely to develop psoriasis compare to people who’d never smoked before. A smaller study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Dermatology
that looked at twins also found that smokers were twice as likely to have psoriasis.
For people who also have psoriatic arthritis
, smoking can also make this condition worse. Smokers with psoriatic arthritis
are less likely to get the best response from treatments such as biologic drugs, according to a Danish study published in 2015 in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases
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Smoking may trigger psoriasis genes in people who have a tendency for the condition
Dr Mesinkovska explains how smoking increases risk of psoriasis and makes existing psoriasis worse: “In people who have a genetic tendency for psoriasis, smoking may trigger the genes to become active. People who smoke may also have more stress
, and stress
is a trigger for psoriasis.”
But tobacco might not be solely to blame, according to Dr Mesinkovska. “Nicotine alters the immune system
, which may partially explain the type of cell damage called oxidative damage. This may be why smoking makes psoriasis worse.”
The takeaway? If you’re a smoker, you now have even greater motivation to quit!
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