By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A common skin condition is linked to several potentially life threatening diseases. Will treating the skin condition Psoriasis lower the risk for heart disease? That’s what researchers at Perelman are trying to determine.

Mark Bond has severe psoriasis. The disease causes skin cells to grow rapidly, forming scales and red, itchy patches that can be painful. “It’s embarrassing, people see it and they don’t know what it is, contagious, which it isn’t, but people don’t know that,” said Bond.

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania looked at more than 9,000 psoriasis patients.  They found as the severity of the skin disease increased, so did the patients chances of pulmonary disease, diabetes, liver disease, heart attack and vascular disease.

Dr. Joel Gelfand the Study Author at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania says, “If patients have severe disease that doesn’t bother them they are often untreated, and we don’t know if that is potentially dangerous.”

Psoriasis is a common skin condition, affecting as many as seven and a half million Americans. “We are concerned that the link between Psoriasis and cardiovascular disease may be that inflammation is common to both conditions,” Dr. Gelfand said.

In the new study starting at Penn researchers will analyze how treating psoriasis might affect inflammation throughout the body. “I hope I can help somebody else down the road,” Bond said.

There is no cure for Psoriasis but a variety of different therapy’s can treat symptoms. Perelman is still enrolling Psoriasis volunteers for the new phase of the study.

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