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Unseen Risk: Lifestyle, physical problems may underlie psoriasis link to early mortality

Severe psoriasis knocks as many years off a person's life expectancy as high blood pressure does, a new study suggests.

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes an overproduction of skin cells. Most people use topical treatments on the thick patches of skin that develop. But the disease can be itchy and painful, and those with moderate disease often resort to ultraviolet-light therapy. Severe disease can require systemic drugs.

Researchers used a British medical database to track the fates of roughly 138,000 psoriasis patients between 1987 and 2002. Nearly 4,000 had severe disease. To define a large control group, the scientists located the records of up to five other people without psoriasis who were the same age as each patient and who visited the same clinic.

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