Hormone Drugs Up Asthma Risk

Published Online: Saturday, May 1, 2004

Hormone therapy and its side effects were the subject of a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine (February 23, 2004). The researchers discovered that postmenopausal women who used hormone therapy are at an increased risk for developing asthma, but not chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

For this study, investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston looked at data from the Nurses' Health Study. The participants in that study, which enrolled 121,700 married female registered nurses, aged 30 to 55, in 1976, were sent questionnaires once every 2 years. They were asked about their medical history, diet and lifestyle, exercise, and hormone use. During the years 1988 to 1996, the nurses were sent follow-up questionnaires that asked them about new asthma and COPD diagnoses.

The results indicated that current use of estrogen alone was connected with a 2.29 times greater risk of asthma.Women who used estrogen plus progestin had a similar increased rate of newly diagnosed asthma.

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