When you think of psoriasis, you probably think about the skin. It is true that this disease primarily causes skin symptoms – that of itchy or sore patches of thick, reddened skin covered with silvery scales. However, psoriasis has also now been linked to a higher risk of a liver ailment known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is a serious condition in which abnormal amounts of fat build up inside the liver. It’s likely that lifestyle and diet contribute to this process. The new link between psoriasis and NAFLD was uncovered in a small observational study of 151 adults with psoriasis (along with 51 control subjects who did not have any skin disease).
NAFLD occurred in 21% of the psoriasis patients, but only 7.8% of the control group. NAFLD is a concern for these (as well as any) patients because it can progress to the life-threatening condition of liver cirrhosis.
As is common with NAFLD overall, the psoriasis patients with this liver condition in this study were more likely to be overweight or even obese. Thus, one of first things usually recommended for those with NAFLD is to lose weight. Weight loss can reduce fat in the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis.
With the high rates of NAFLD found in this population of psoriasis patients, it’s prudent for anyone with psoriasis to be assessed for NAFLD, especially if the person is significantly overweight or exhibits other symptoms of liver dysfunction.
Awosika O, Eleryan MG, Rengifo-Pardo M, et al. A case-control study to evaluate the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 2018;11(6):33–7.