Weight loss reduces psoriasis symptoms

December 22, 2016

Weight loss has a significant and prolonged positive impact on psoriasis symptoms and quality of life. The findings stem from a study conducted by Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports and other participants. The results are published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an internationally renowned scientific journal.

Klinisk foto, Gentofte hospital

Sixty test-subjects, obese and affected by psoriasis, lost an average of fifteen kilos over a sixteen-week period while improving their quality of life and reducing the severity of their psoriasis. Upon follow up, one year later, the subjects remained ten kilos below their starting weights, and improvements in their psoriasis symptoms and quality of life were maintained.

More overweight people, more psoriasis

"150,000 Danes suffer from varying degrees of psoriasis," explains the study's project manager, Professor and Senior Physician Lone Skov, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Department of Dermatology and Allergy, University of Copenhagen. We know that there is a connection between being overweight and psoriasis; being more overweight makes the disease worse.

Skov is supported by article co-author, Professor Arne Astrup, of the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports: "We know that both psoriasis and obesity are linked with an increased incidence of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. If we could get obese psoriasis patients to lose weight and keep the weight off, we could potentially derive positive effects on their overall health and quality of life as well."

Weight loss leads to improved quality of life

A study conducted in 2012 lead to obese test subjects with psoriasis losing between 10-15% of their starting weights. The study demonstrated that there was a tendency for weight loss to reduce the severity of psoriasis among the subjects. Furthermore, the study clearly demonstrated that weight loss lead to a significantly better quality of life - with a lasting effect.

"When we revisited test subjects one year later, they had only regained five kilos. Thus, they remained ten kilos beneath their starting weights. This was impressive in and of itself, but it was even more positive that they had maintained the effects of their initial weight loss with regards to the diminished severity of their psoriasis and quality of life," explains Dr. Peter Jensen, senior resident, ph.d. at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen.

Weight loss is one aspect of broader treatment regimen

Professor Arne Astrup points to the relevance of the results for psoriasis treatment: "The results underscore the importance of focusing on weight loss as one element in a broad spectrum approach to effective psoriasis treatment for overweight patients. A by-product of weight loss might be a reduction of the complications associated with obesity. This results in a significant effect on the overall well-being of patients."
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About the study

The study was a collaboration between the Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Department of Clinical Biochemistry and the Department of Cardiology at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen; Musculoskeletal Statistics Unit, Parker Institute, Department of Rheumatology, Frederiksberg Hospital and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen; and the Nutrition Unit at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen.

The study results are published in the article, 'Long-term effects of weight reduction on the severity of psoriasis in a cohort derived from a randomized trial: a prospective observational follow-up study', found in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

About psoriasis

Psoriasis is a hereditary and chronic skin disease that affects roughly 150,000 Danes. The disease is characterized by the presence of red, itchy and scaly patches of abnormal skin. The severity varies greatly from person to person.

Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

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