According to the Arthritis Foundation, psoriasis affects approximately 7.5 million Americans. An estimated 30 percent of those suffering with this skin disorder develop psoriatic arthritis. Several drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, are marketed to mitigate the problematic symptoms of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Unfortunately, many options come with a long list of potentially harmful side effects.
Research studies surrounding Stelara, the only interleukin 12/23 inhibitor on the market, are particularly troubling. In April of 2016, the non-profit Institute for Safe Medication Practices, ISMP, warned in its quarterly report that Stelera can increase your odds for developing cancer an astounding 15 times higher than other psoriasis treatments.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder that accelerates the life cycle of skin cells. The condition causes cells to accumulate rapidly on the surface of your skin. The extra skin cells produce red patches and scales that may be itchy and painful. Plaque psoriasis is the most prevalent type of the disease. It causes dry, raised, and red skin lesions known as plaques. Plaques are covered with silvery scales. They can break out anywhere on your body. In addition to plaque psoriasis, other forms of the disease include:
- Nail psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis
Psoriatic arthritis, a frequent complication of psoriasis, causes swollen, painful joints. If left unchecked, psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage including a loss of function in some joints. Psoriasis is a chronic disease with no known cure. However, doctors prescribe medications such as Stelara to help patients manage their symptoms.
The generic name for Stelara is ustekinumab. Distributed by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, Stelara is an injectable drug prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and active psoriatic arthritis.
First approved by the FDA in 2009, Stelara already consists of a warning indicating it might increase the risk of malignancies. The reason stems from Stelara being an immunosuppressant. The ISMP reported that Stelara blocks two elements of your immune system.
Before issuing its quarterly report, the ISMP compared numerous different psoriasis medications and the rates of reported cancer linked to each. In addition to Stelara, medicines used in the comparison included the anti-tumor necrosis factor, anti-TNF, drugs Humira, Enbrel, Cimzia, Simponi, and Remicade. The interleukin 17a inhibitor Consentyx was also used.
These drugs were all compared to the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 4, PDE4, Otezla. Because Otezla isn’t known to have any autoimmune suppressing effects, it was utilized as a baseline. Those taking anti-TNF drugs were five times more likely to get cancer than Otezla users. Shockingly, the Stelara risks were triple the risks of the anti-TNF medicines.
This non-profit institute reached out to Janssen. The drug maker vehemently disagreed with the findings. Janssen insisted the malignancy warning was theoretical. Stelara’s distributer maintained it doesn’t feel a link between Stelara and cancer exists.
Despite the research reported on by the ISMP and others, the FDA has no objection about Stelara being administered to children as young as 12-years-old. Besides subjecting patients to increased risks for developing cancer, Stelara is believed to be able to cause Chron’s disease, bronchitis, and other serious infections.
Stelara, and other drugs like it, aren’t the only available treatment options for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Several viable natural remedies might alleviate your bothersome symptoms without increasing your risks for developing serious medical problems. Some popular natural alternatives include:
- Fish oil
- Aloe vera
- A Mediterranean diet
Exposure to ultraviolet, UV, rays in sunlight diminishes scaling and inflammation by slowing skin cell turnover. While short, daily exposures to small amounts of sunlight might improve psoriasis, intense sun exposure can worsen symptoms and lead to skin damage.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. These beneficial acids are thought to be able to decrease the inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Taking three grams or less of fish oil each day is generally recognized as safe.
Aloe extract cream is produced from the leaves of the aloe vera plant. When applied to your skin, it can diminish redness, scaling, itching, and inflammation.
The Mediterranean diet is often praised for its anti-aging, disease-fighting powers. Following it is thought to help curb the inflammation present in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating key foods including fish, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Consult with your physician before beginning an alternative treatment regimen for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Experimenting with natural remedies might prevent you from needing pharmaceutical solutions such as Stelara.
Your goal should be to find the most effective way to slow the cell turnover associated with psoriasis, or the joint discomfort and damage linked to psoriatic arthritis, with the fewest possible side effects.
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