Utility of Acanthosis Nigricans and Skin Tags as a screening tool for risk of developing NCDs: A cross sectional study at a tertiary care health facility in Lucknow

There has been a sudden increase in the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and a decreasing trend of communicable diseases (epidemiological transition) in India in last three decades. Identifying the individuals with NCDs (or) at risk of developing NCDs would help to curtail the probabilities of worse outcomes in future by urgent promotive, preventive or curative actions taken in time. Cutaneous markers like Acanthosis Nigricans (AN) and Skin Tags (ST) may be supportive evidence in identifying people at risk of developing NCDs. The objective of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of AN and ST in study population and also to explore association between presence of AN & ST with BMI, Random Blood Sugar (RBS) levels, and other popular measures of assessing risk of metabolic disorders/NCDs like Waist to Height ratio, Indian Diabetes Risk Scores (IDRS) in study population, so as to see their utility as a risk predictor. It was a hospital based cross sectional study of two months duration. Sampling frame was constituted by healthy hospital staff (nurses, paramedical workers) and apparently healthy patient attendees coming to the hospital. Total sample size was 152. Convenience sampling was utilized to select the participants from the sampling frame. Data was collected with the help of a questionnaire, followed by inspection for presence of AN/ST on nape of neck and axilla by member of the research team. The prevalence of AN comes out to be 19.08(95% CL=12.76-25.40) and ST comes out to be 28.29 (95% CL=21.05-35.53). Association was observed between various biophysical and personal characteristics and presence or absence of AN/ST. It was observed that AN/ST were more in people having high BMI values, high waist to height ratio and individuals having high IDRS score. Conclusion: Cutaneous markers like AN/ST may be utilized as important screening tool in public health for identifying people at risk of developing NCDs along with other usual measures. Further research is desirable to validate the findings.

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