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Menstrual Cycle Shows Effect on Exhaled Nitric Oxide Levels

Study finds relationship between estrogen and progesterone, markers of atopy and asthma

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- In premenopausal women with asthma who don't use oral contraceptives, there are significant associations between sex hormones and asthma markers, according to a study published in the November issue of Chest.

Piush J. Mandhane, M.D., of St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues conducted daily assessments of 17 women -- eight of them nonusers of oral contraceptives -- over the course of their menstrual cycle.

In the nonusers of oral contraceptives, the researchers found that increases in estrogen levels were associated with decreased exhaled nitric oxide levels, and that increases in progesterone levels were associated with increased exhaled nitric oxide levels and skin-prick test wheal size. In oral contraceptive users, they observed no significant association between sex hormones and asthma markers.

"The results of this study may have important clinical implications for the management of asthma in premenopausal women," the authors conclude. "The proinflammatory influence of progesterone may be modifiable by escalating the dosage of inhaled corticosteroids or other asthma controller medication during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle."

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