4 posts tagged “obesity”

Taking Psoriasis Treatment to the Next Level: An Interview with Dermatologist Dr. Jerry Bagel

Posted February 11th, 2013 by

Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Jerry Bagel, MD

A nationally recognized psoriasis expert, Dr. Jerry Bagel, MD, has been an investigator on more than 45 clinical trials seeking new treatments for psoriasis and other skin conditions.  In addition to treating patients at his private dermatology practice in East Windsor, New Jersey, Dr. Bagel serves as Senior Attending Physician at the Princeton University Medical Center and Director of the Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey.   He is also a three-term member of the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board.  What investigational treatment for psoriasis is he currently studying?  And what does he wish more psoriasis patients knew?  Check out our insightful interview below.

1. What led you to focus your research on psoriasis?

I started studying psoriasis when I was resident at Columbia-Presbyterian in 1982-1985. At that time I would spend six months on in-patient service with 30 hospitalized psoriatic patients who would stay in for treatment for a month.   And I realized the burden of disease – the psychological, emotional and physical impact of this disease on people.

So when I opened up my private practice in 1985, I decided that psoriasis treatment and care of psoriasis patients would be a major part of my professional career and so I started seeing a lot people with psoriasis.  I started doing research in 1992 and then just kept working with pharmaceutical companies and developing our own protocols for research into the treatment of psoriasis, trying to find better treatments, safer treatments, more effective treatments.

2. Tell us about some of your most recent clinical trial findings.

The most recent clinical trial I’m doing as of today is IL-17 receptor antibodies with Amgen that is remarkable, using subcutaneous injections once every other week.   People are getting clear within 2-4 weeks, so it’s really a quite effective treatment.  I mean, obviously we don’t know [everything yet], but so far it’s been good at our facility, and the data I’ve read about it seems to be pretty good.  So I think it could take the treatment of psoriasis to another level in the sense that over half the people will probably clear and probably 85% will have a very effective level of clearing.  So it’s going to take it to another level of clearing given what existed before.

3. Speaking of what existed before, what current treatments are most effective in your experience?

Well, we still use phototherapy, but people have to come in three times a week for about 12 weeks. It works about 75% of the time, but people only stay clear for about six months maybe 75% of the time.  So in the end it only works well for about 50% of the people.  But it’s totally safe, so therefore the benefit ratio is high.  We also do all the biologic agents, like Enbrel and Humira and Stelara, and they’re quite effective treatments.

In fact, Enbrel and Humira are FDA-approved for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis as well – and up to 25% of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis.  So it helps the arthritic component of psoriasis as well.   So we do use the biologics, although sometimes we have to tweak them with some systemic therapies.   Sometimes we use cyclosporine, sometimes we use methotrexate.  But the treatment of psoriasis today is certainly a lot better than it was say 10 years ago.

4. Do you have any dietary recommendations for psoriasis patients?

I think diet helps, but I don’t think diet necessarily clears psoriasis for very many people, if any.  But we know that psoriasis is associated with the metabolic syndrome, and many patients are obese and have diabetes, which are inflammatory triggers.  I think patients that eat a low-inflammatory diet – with more fish like mackerel, salmon or anchovies, and less red meat – tend to be better.  Staying away from fatty foods like animal fats, and eating more vegetable fats like nuts, tends to be helpful.  Also, I do think that weight loss tends to help people with psoriasis.  The other culprit is alcohol.  Alcohol is not good for people with psoriasis.

5. What is something you wish more psoriasis patients knew?

I wish more psoriasis patients knew that there are physicians providing effective care for psoriasis.  For instance, today I had a young woman who was 23 years old.  She came into my office with psoriasis covering about 20% of her body.  She’d been to three dermatologists before me, and two of them told her there was nothing they could do about it, and she should learn to live with it.  So I wish there was more education for people with psoriasis to know there are dermatologists or psoriasis caregivers who are interested in the treatment of psoriasis – and a better way of connecting people with psoriasis with the physicians interested in treating psoriasis.


Get Pumped for American Heart Month

Posted February 7th, 2013 by

February Is American Heart Month

You’ve all heard this fact before:  heart disease (including heart attacks and heart failure) is the leading cause of death among American men and women, claiming around 600,000 lives each year.  But what are you doing about it?  Are you and your family working on the controllable risk factors that play a role in this largely preventable disease?

For example, how are you doing with these controllable risk factors?

Cholesterol levels
Blood pressure
Obesity
Diabetes
Tobacco use
Physical activity

During American Heart Month this February, it’s the perfect time to ride the momentum of your New Year’s resolutions and move towards a more heart-healthy lifestyle.  That means making small to large changes in your daily routine that really pay off.  From what you eat to how much walking you do, take stock of what you can control…and share your experiences with other PatientsLikeMe members.

Not sure where to start?  Use a BMI calculator to find out whether your Body Mass Index (BMI) falls within a healthy range.  Also, make sure you go in for an annual checkup this year, which will give you and your doctor a chance to look at your cholesterol, blood pressure and heartbeat.  That way, if there’s a red flag anywhere, you can start doing something about it sooner rather than later.

Also, it’s always a good idea to brush up on the warning signs of a heart attack – and how they may be different for men and women.  Here’s to keeping the blood pumping this year and many more!


A Study by Northwestern University School of Medicine Links Psoriasis to Obesity in Children

Posted January 29th, 2013 by

It’s no secret that being overweight comes with health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack. After a new study, researchers from Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago are closer to adding psoriasis to the list. However, the study did not conclude if psoriasis influences obesity or visa versa. It’s still a bit like asking, ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’ Here are the facts of the study:

  • 409 children with psoriasis (ages 5-17) from nine countries participated
  • Children with psoriasis were twice as likely to be overweight
  • Obesity risk for children increased despite their psoriasis being mild or severe

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According to Dr. Amy S. Paller, Chair of Dermatology at Northwestern Medicine, “one-third of all psoriasis cases start in childhood.” If there is a metabolic link between the two conditions, having a healthy lifestyle earlier on could prove important to managing not only weight and cardiovascular health, but psoriasis as well.

What are your thoughts on this? Add your voice to the forum thread that your Community Moderator Molly started.  Join the conversation.

You can find the entire text of the study here.


Get Healthy for Good: An Interview with Catie Coman of the National Psoriasis Foundation

Posted October 7th, 2011 by

Catie Coman, Director of Communications, National Psoriasis Foundation

In August, we recognized Psoriasis Awareness Month on our blog and shared some facts and figures about this autoimmune disease, which affects 7.5 million Americans. One of the statistics we shared is that psoriasis often occurs in conjunction with other serious health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and obesity.

What these conditions share is that they can often be improved by reaching an ideal body weight. But losing weight – and maintaining it – is easier said than done. That’s why the National Psoriasis Foundation has launched the Healthy for Good campaign. Here’s what Catie Coman, Director of Communications at the National Psoriasis Foundation, tells us about this new online program.

1. What is Healthy for Good, and why should patients join in?

Healthy for Good (www.healthyforgood.org) is program designed to help people lose weight, while raising funds for a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It’s unique in that is uses a public platform and the fundraising tactic of “friends asking friends” to help people reach their goals.

Forty percent of people with psoriasis have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and abdominal obesity. By joining Healthy for Good, they’ll get tools to stay motivated, lose weight and reduce their risk factors for these associated conditions. They’ll also be able to support research to find a cure for psoriatic diseases.

2. How will Healthy for Good reduce the risk factors for these conditions?

Healthy for Good may reduce the risk factors for these other serious conditions by providing participants with a platform to lose weight safely and set achievable goals. Healthy for Good supports a weight loss goal of up to two pounds per week. Participants will make a commitment to eat right and exercise—and reduce their risk for other serious diseases while they get healthy.

3. How is this program different from other health and fitness campaigns?

First, it gives people a chance to go public. Research shows that people are far more likely to achieve a goal when they put their reputation on the line—by publicly announcing their intentions. Healthy for Good helps people be accountable by giving them a platform to broadcast their commitment.

Also, it will help people stick to their resolution by asking others to support their efforts. For every pound that someone commits to lose, they will ask loved ones to donate $1, $5, $10 or more to help the National Psoriasis Foundation find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Participants will track their progress each week, and the Healthy for Good tracker will calculate their overall progress toward their goal. In order to help people stay motivated, each person who meets their weight-loss and fundraising goals will be entered to win prizes.

4.  Is Healthy for Good only available to psoriasis patients or can anyone join?

Anyone can join Healthy for Good. People without psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can use this program to overcome weight loss obstacles and lose the pounds, while helping others at the same time. And it’s a great way for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to get healthy, reduce their risk of other serious associated diseases and raise funds to find a cure.

PatientsLikeMe member mcotter