Obesity to Blame for Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis, Says Experts

By on July 5, 2013
If you have psoriasis, then you probably know your risk of psoriatic arthritis is high–around 30 percent of people with this condition eventually develop this type of arthritis.

And the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are hard to ignore: The constant foot and lower back pain, inflammation, and soreness of the joints makes even mobility a tough issue.

So what’s the real cause? While most experts put the blame on psoriasis itself–and indeed, that usually is the cause–new evidence suggests that high cholesterol, and to a further extent, obesity can also trigger painful arthritic symptoms.

“More and more studies in recent years have reported a link between obesity and psoriatic arthritis,” says Anna Broder, M.D., one of the researchers behind a new study conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “In addition, patients whose body mass index is high are less able to achieve or maintain low disease activity in psoriatic arthritis.”

What’s Really Causing Your Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

If a higher body mass index and cholesterol levels are the cause, then where is the evidence?

According to the study, which was published in EULAR, people with psoriatic arthritis who were considered part of a high risk group often had a higher body mass index–and had imbalances in cholesterol levels. On average, people in the high risk group boasted an average BMI of 31.7, compared to 30.6 in the control group.

It’s small, but it makes a big difference: 30.6 is considered borderline obesity, whereas 31.7 is considered full-blown obesity.

As for why these factors may be linked, Broder says there may be certain common traits, or possibly other pathogenic mechanisms, that correlate with both increased obesity and psoriatic arthritis rates. Perhaps one factor is triggering another; some people think that obesity itself is a risk factor for psoriatic arthritis symptoms.

These findings correlate with a 2012 study, which found that women whose body mass index was over 35, considered morbidly obese, were more than six times likely to have psoriatic arthritis.

“There may be common pathogenic mechanisms for obesity and psoriatic arthritis,” says Broder. “And this should be studied further.”

What These Findings Mean For You

The evidence keeps on mounting: Obesity and high cholesterol are correlated with a higher risk of psoriatic arthritis. But what do these findings mean for you?

  • It’s time to really watch your weight. If you have a family history of psoriatic arthritis, be mindful of your weight. People who are obese consistently face a higher risk of this disease. Watching your calories, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods are all effective ways to lower your body mass index.
  • Eating healthy matters too. Poor cholesterol imbalances are due to two factors: Genetics and your diet. While genetic factors cannot be controlled, you have complete control over your diet. How to get healthy: Avoiding red meat, high-fat foods, and avoiding eating too much in general are effective ways to keep cholesterol under control.
  • Also, don’t forget exercise. Exercise seems to improve weight loss and cholesterol, plus it’s heart-healthy–something too that can worsen as your weight increases. Just 30 minutes of physical activity is all you need to stay healthy.

Readers: If you have this condition, how do you deal with it? Do you treat it naturally or with medication?

Study Shows Obesity, Cholesterol May Be Risk Factors for Psoriatic

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