Severe Psoriasis and Early Death

A study[1] conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and released by the Archives of Dermatology in December of 2007 shows that there is an increased risk for early death in men and women who have severe psoriasis.

Severe psoriasis for purposes of clinical studies is defined as: when a patient has at least 10% of body surface area (BSA) covered involved in the disease and the severity index (PASI) score is greater than or equal to 12, than they are characterized as having severe psoriasis.

3 ½ Years Early

The study results show that on average men with severe psoriasis died an average of 3.5 years sooner than male patients studied who did not have psoriasis. The study also showed that women with severe psoriasis on average died 4.4 years earlier than women studied who did not have the disease. The study used individuals living in the United Kingdome from 1987 to 2002 and classified individuals with severe psoriasis as those who were using systemic treatments to treat their disease.

This particular study was conducted prior to the availability of “biologics”, which are now widely used to treat severe forms of psoriasis. “Biologics” are products that come from “lining sources”, which are animals, humans, bacteria and viruses. In other words the products are made from living organisms. Biologics are used to treat both moderate and severe forms of psoriasis.


Those conducting the study were not able to find answers as to why this is true only that the statistics and evidence pointed in the direction of early death for severe psoriasis sufferers. There is much more to be done in the area of psoriasis research before the answer to that and other psoriasis questions can be answered. One of those questions is: Does severe psoriasis cause the earlier than average deaths of those with the disease or are there other factors that contribute to the result?

Factors that may be connected to severe psoriasis and the affects it has on the individuals who have it are: consuming alcohol, obesity, smoking tobacco products and social isolation. Another good question for researchers to answer would be: Does certain psoriasis have a better result regarding life expectance in severe cases of psoriasis?

Lifestyle Choices

Until such questions are answered anyone suffering from severe psoriasis is encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles and to seek regular visits with their doctor or dermatologist treating their psoriasis.

The study has a purpose in that while we wait for further answers, the information from the study can spur severe psoriasis patients to be proactive concerning their lifestyle choices and to be diligent concerning following the treatment plans that they and their doctors design for their severe psoriasis. Lifestyle choices that are healthy would be to: cease any use of alcohol or tobacco products, lose any excess weight, exercise on a regular basis, maintain a healthy blood pressure, control their cholesterol to healthy levels and manage any chronic disease such as diabetes.

The study for most readers will most likely emphasize the concept that psoriasis is not just a “cosmetic disease”; it is a serious health threat to those who have it. It is vitally important that everyone support psoriasis research in whatever way is possible


1. Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE; Andrea B. Troxel, ScD; James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE; Shanu Kohli Kurd, MHS; Daniel B. Shin, BA; Xingmei Wang, MS; David J. Margolis, MD, PhD; Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH “The Risk of Mortality in Patients With Psoriasis” Arch Dermatol. 2007;143(12):1493-1499.