Psoriasis and smoking

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It has been well documented that smoking is a bad habit, which can cause serious risks to your health; including disease to the heart and circulation (cardiovascular), angina, heart attack and stroke.

Smoking can cause lung cancer; ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking, but it can also cause many other cancers and illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Another disease can be added to the list of smoking-related disorders - psoriasis. Researchers have found that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, heavier smoking increases the risk further, and the risk decreases only slowly after quitting.

A study by investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, all in Boston, USA, and Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada, published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2007, show that compared with women who never smoked, the risk of psoriasis was 37% higher among past smokers and 78% higher among current smokers.

This study is the largest prospective assessment of multiple markers of smoking status, duration, and intensity in relation to the risk of psoriasis. Using data from the Nurses Health Study II (NHS II), an ongoing longitudinal study of 116,608 female registered nurses from 15 states between the ages of 25 and 42 years at baseline who completed and returned an initial questionnaire in 1989, the researchers documented 887 incident cases of psoriasis during the 14 years of follow-up. Lifetime smoking exposure was measured in pack-years, equal to smoking 20 cigarettes per day for one year.

Pack-years were associated with a graded increase in the risk for psoriasis. Compared with never smokers; the risk was 20% higher for 1-10 pack-years, 60% higher for 11-20 pack-years, and more than two times higher for 21 pack-years. The significant trends persisted with smoking duration in both current and past smokers. Furthermore, exposure to passive smoke during pregnancy or childhood was associated with an increased risk of psoriasis. The risk of psoriasis among former smokers decreases nearly to that of never smokers 20 years after cessation.

Writing in the article, Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, states, "These findings, along with well-established hazardous health effects of smoking, provide clear incentives for smoking cessation in those at risk for and suffering from psoriasis. Beyond the potential effect on psoriasis, smoking cessation would lead to a better overall clinical outcome in psoriasis patients, who often suffer co-morbidities related to smoking."


Smoking and the Risk of Psoriasis in Women Nurses Health Study II: Setty A R, Curhan G, Choi H K; The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 120, Issue 11 (November 2007).
Herron MD, Hinckley M, Hoffman MS et al. Impact of Obesity and Smoking on Psoriasis Presentation and Management. Archives of Dermatology. 2005;141:1527-1534.
Williams HC Smoking and Psoriasis BMJ 1994;308:428-429
Naldi, Peli L, Parazzini F (1999) Association of early stage psoriasis with smoking and male alcohol consumption Archives of Dermatology. 1999:135:1479-1484