Adolescent Stress Increases Men’s Risk of Developing Psoriasis Later in Life: Study

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Men who have poor resilience to stress during adolescence are at an elevated risk of developing psoriasis later in life, a study revealed.

Stress is a known trigger for several dermatological conditions including acne, urticaria, and psoriasis. Psoriasis occurs when a person’s immune system becomes overactive, causing patchy, scaly, and inflamed skin. Patients with psoriasis are also at increased risk of developing Psoriatic arthritis, a chronic form of arthritis with pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints.

According to the study conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, adolescent men with greater vulnerability to stress experience a 31% higher risk of developing psoriasis compared to those with high-stress resilience. The results were published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

“We have shown that lower stress resilience in adolescence is a potential risk factor for psoriasis, at least for men. Our results suggest that those with psoriasis have a hereditary psychological sensitivity. It is therefore important that healthcare professionals also pay attention to the mental well-being of patients with psoriasis,” Marta Laskowski, lead author of the study, said in a news release.

Since psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease, the link to stress may be attributable to an increased inflammatory response in the body.

The findings were based on a large population study conducted among men enrolled in military service. The team used data from more than 1.6 million men enlisted for military service between 1968 and 2005 in Sweden.

During military enrollment, the participants underwent psychological assessments to evaluate their stress resilience, and based on the results, they were divided into three groups.

Around 20% of the participants were in the lowest group of stress resilience, 21% were in the highest group and more than 50% were in the intermediary group. Based on the data obtained from the National Patient Register, researchers noted that more than 36,000 psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis cases were reported.

“Low-stress resilience in men involves a 31% higher risk of developing psoriasis compared to high-stress resilience. More severe cases of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis were also found to be particularly clearly linked to stress. For in-patient diagnoses, low-stress resilience meant a 79% higher risk of psoriasis and a 53% higher risk of psoriatic arthritis compared to high-stress resilience,” the news release stated.

A study limitation is that the researchers tested the participant’s stress resilience only once during enrollment. “Stress resilience can vary throughout life. However, we have not had the opportunity to investigate these changes,” Laskowski said.

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