Psoriasis: Five Things You Need to Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 16, 2016

psoriasis on a mid age mans elbow. Not isolated.

An autoimmune disorder, psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that impacts an estimated 7.5 million Americans.

An autoimmune disorder, psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that most often appears as red, scaly patches that itch, crack, and bleed. The most common areas of skin that are impacted by psoriasis include the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. An estimated 7.5 million Americans are living with this condition that, when treated, can be managed.

With August being Psoriasis Awareness Month, here are five things you need to know:

  • The cause of psoriasis is still largely unknown. While the exact cause of psoriasis is not known, researchers are actively studying treatments that help skin not react to the immune system. They also are looking at the association between the disorder and other conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Generally, though, psoriasis is thought to be caused by abnormally fast-growing and shedding skin cells. The skin cells multiply quickly, causing the skin to shed every three to four days. It is also thought that the condition can be caused by a trigger – such as injury, sunburn, certain medicines, infection, stress, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • Psoriasis is not contagious, but it does run in families. Anyone can get psoriasis and it affects both women and men and all ethnicities at the same rate. One risk factor for the disorder is if someone in your family – father, mother, grandparent, aunt, uncle – has psoriasis.

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Watch This Video: Stress and Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 22, 2014

Helene Langevin, MD, CM, Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Are you stressed out? Well, you are not alone. Unfortunately, for most of us, stress is a part of everyday life – fighting traffic in the morning, rushing to bring your kids to their various activities, constant worrying about finances or the health of a loved one.

But did you know that stress also has a major impact on your health and its effects are different for women and men? Recently, an expert panel from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) met to discuss this very topic – how stress effects us and how gender plays a role.

In this video, “Demystifying Stress: An Integrated Approach for Women”, cardiologist Paula A. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and Chief, Division of Women’s Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, leads the discussion about the impact of stress on women’s mental and physical health as well as medical and non-medical approaches for relieving the symptoms arising from stress. Joining Dr. Johnson for this informative and insightful discussion are Martin A. Samuels, MD, Chair, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Miriam Sydney Joseph Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Helene Langevin, MD, CM, Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Bernard Osher Professor in Residence of Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School.

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For Women, a Beer Every Couple of Days Might Help Keep Rheumatoid Arthritis Away

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 18, 2014

A new study suggests that, for women, drinking moderate amounts of beer may reduce future development of rheumatoid arthritis.

If you enjoy the occasional beer, you might be reducing your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) suggests that, for women, drinking moderate amounts of beer has a positive impact on the development of rheumatoid arthritis – the most common type of chronic arthritis caused by the immune system.

“Long-term, moderate alcohol drinking may reduce future rheumatoid arthritis development,” explains principal investigator Bing Lu, MD, DrPH, of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at BWH. “The study found that moderate use of any form of alcohol reduced the risk by 21 percent, but moderate beer drinking – between two and four per week – cut women’s odds by nearly a third.”

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Choosing an Obstetrics Provider: The First Decision You’ll Make as a Parent

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 20, 2014

There are few important things to consider before choosing an obstetrics provider for you and your baby.

Long before you start picking out baby names, you will need to make a few other decisions, including who will care for you and your baby during your pregnancy.

Here are a few important things you should consider to ensure that you are making the best decision for you and your family.

Be sure that the provider you choose offers the full range of services that you and your baby will need throughout your pregnancy.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, our obstetricians and midwives provide comprehensive consultation and pregnancy care. And, in the event you or your baby needs specialized care, the hospital is home to some of the most advanced world-class programs in gynecology, obstetrics, and newborn care.

The Center for Fetal Medicine and Prenatal Genetics provides comprehensive assessment and treatment of fetal disease, genetic counseling, and fetal ultrasound, working closely with the specialists in the state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for babies who require intensive, specialized care.

The Newborn Medicine Department, which is staffed by expert neonatologists and other specialists, cares for newborns and is specially equipped to care for infants as young as 23 weeks gestation. Our state-of-the-art, Level-3 NICU is one of the best in the world.

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Mediterranean Diet May Lead to Longer, Healthier Lives for Women

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 15, 2014

Middle-aged women who follow a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet may live a healthier, longer life.

A few months ago, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers released a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that indicates middle-aged women who follow a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet may live a healthier, longer life.

“Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40 percent more likely to survive to age 70 or over,” says lead researcher Cecilia Samieri, a postdoctoral fellow who conducted the study while at BWH. She is now a researcher at INSERM and Universite de Bordeaux, in France – the French equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The women who ate healthier not only lived longer, but they also thrived. They were less likely to have any major chronic diseases and more likely to have no impairment in physical functioning, mental health, or thinking skills. The research did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect link between better eating and longer life.

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Alzheimer’s Disease: Studying a Treatment while the Mind is Still Bright

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 13, 2014


The number of Alzheimer’s patients is likely to triple in the next 20-30 years, as people are living longer lives.

It is estimated that some 30 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide. In the United States, over five million Americans, or one in nine, suffer from dementia in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Estimates say that the number of Alzheimer’s patients is likely to triple in the next 20-30 years, as people are living longer lives.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die. The disease can cause impaired memory, confusion, personality and behavior changes, impaired judgment, and impaired communication. Dr. Reisa Sperling, Director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) calls it the “epidemic of Alzheimer’s.”

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Comprehensive Spine Care: Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 6, 2014

Treating back pain can be very challenging, requiring the expertise and coordination of more than one medical specialty.

Certain spinal conditions, such as back pain, are very common. However, treating these conditions can be very challenging, requiring the expertise and coordination of more than one medical specialty, including physical medicine, pain management, and surgery.

“Back pain is a very common complaint, but a very non-specific complaint. Back pain and leg pain can be caused by many different things, including spinal stenosis, disk herniations, and instability. The procedures that we offer are really tailored to the specific patient with a specific disorder, based on imaging and exam,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Chrisotopher Bono, Co-Director, Brigham and Women’s Comprehensive Spine Center.

To ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment for spinal disorders, patients who are referred to the Brigham and Women’s Comprehensive Spine Center are evaluated with state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures and imaging. Often, the first step is conservative, non-operative treatment by physiatrists, pain management physicians, and other specialists.

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Sinusitis: Everything You Should Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 29, 2014

Along with warmer weather and longer days, spring brings allergies and colds – often the cause of sinusitis.

Contributor: Anthony A. Prince, MD is an otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Along with warmer weather and longer days, spring brings allergies and colds – often the cause of sinusitis, commonly known as a sinus infection.

Sinuses are air-filled cavities near the nasal passage that can become infected in the setting of an upper respiratory infection, cold, or allergic inflammation. This is called sinusitis. Each of these conditions can lead to an obstruction or inflammation in the openings of the sinuses, blocking the normal flow of nasal secretions and allowing bacteria to grow and cause infection.

“It’s important to pay attention to any symptoms you may be experiencing and seek treatment,” says Brigham and Women’s ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist Dr. Anthony A. Prince. “Sinusitis may be the result of an underlying condition and can become chronic.”

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Don’t Let Your Man Skip Breakfast, for His Heart’s Sake

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 24, 2014

Men who skip breakfast are putting their heart health at risk.

If the important men in your life are not eating breakfast, this might help you to convince them they should.

Men who skip breakfast have a 27 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or developing heart disease than those who start the day with something in their stomach, according to BWH and Harvard School of Public Health research that was published in Circulation.

“Men who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight, to develop diabetes, to have hypertension, and to have high cholesterol,” says BWH researcher Eric Rimm, senior author of the study.

For example, breakfast skippers are 15 percent more likely to gain a substantial amount of weight and 21 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, earlier studies have reported.

This study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, found that these men also indulged more heavily in other unhealthy lifestyle choices. They were more likely to smoke, engage in less exercise, and drink alcohol regularly. The researchers analyzed data culled from a 16-year study of nearly 27,000 male health professionals that tracked their eating habits and overall health from 1992 to 2008. During the study period, 1,572 of the men developed heart disease.

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Obesity Is Now a Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2013

Comparing your waist circumference to your height is one method for assessing obesity.

Obesity is now a disease. That is the much publicized conclusion reached by the American Medical Association during its June 2013 annual meeting. While this doesn’t change how registered dietitians manage their clients seeking or needing weight loss, it may allow more physicians to refer their patients for nutritional counseling sooner and perhaps encourage more health insurers to cover nutritional consultations.

Some critics argue that labeling obesity as a disease may take the onus off individuals to alter lifestyle habits, such as improving eating choices and increasing physical activity level. Proponents of the obesity designation counter with the fact that other conditions like diabetes and heart disease are indeed diseases, despite them being better managed with lifestyle changes.

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