Psoriasis May Impair Taste and Smell Which Contributes to Obesity

A REDUCED sense of taste and smell in psoriasis patients could help explain the link between the condition and obesity, according to a study presented at the Psoriasis: From Gene to Clinic International Congress, which took place in London, UK from 30th November–2nd December 2017.

Previous Findings
Previous research has shown that smell and taste senses can be reduced in chronic inflammatory bowel disease patients, which can affect the type of food consumed. Poor nutrition and high BMI have been strongly associated with psoriasis, and the researchers wanted to see if the inflammatory nature of the skin disease similarly causes impairment in smell and taste that could lead to these issues.

Senses Significantly Impaired
In the study, 50 psoriasis patients were asked to identify sweet, sour, salty, and umami in a taste test before they began their treatment using solutions sprayed onto the back of their tongue and sniffing sticks. The results were compared with those in a group of healthy volunteers. It was found that taste and smell were significantly impaired in the psoriasis patient cohort; for example, 33 were unable to taste bitter, and 15 could not taste umami. However, the sweet taste was detected by all the psoriasis patients.

The results imply that the inflammation in psoriasis impairs the senses of smell and taste, which may result in poor nutrition and hence higher BMI rates in psoriasis patients compared with the rest of the population.

Further Study
Dr Michael Sticherling, University Hospitals Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany, commented: “Patients with psoriasis commonly have issues with nutrition, which can have an impact on their overall health. We wanted to explore in greater detail the reasons for this. Our results show that psoriasis patients may have greater difficulty identifying tastes than the general population, with the exception of sweet flavours. It is possible that this is part of the reason for nutrition issues amongst people with the disease. More study is needed before we can say this for sure, but in the meantime, there is compelling evidence that inflammation does have an impact on our ability to taste and smell things.”

Despite the need for further research, this study could help provide the basis for future strategies for managing psoriasis in the future.

James Coker, Senior Editorial Assistant

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