Hormone Replacement Therapy Linked to Higher Asthma Risk

Study finds increased asthma risk observed only in women taking estrogen alone

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who use hormone replacement therapy consisting of estrogen alone are at higher risk of developing asthma, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in Thorax.

Noting that previous studies have suggested links between female hormones and asthma risk, Isabelle Romieu, M.D., of the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and colleagues surveyed 57,664 postmenopausal French women regarding self-reported use of hormone replacement therapy, medical history, and lifestyle factors.

After a follow-up of more than 10 years, the researchers recorded 569 incident cases of asthma. After adjusting for several factors, recent use of hormone replacement therapy was associated with a higher risk of asthma (hazard ratio, 1.20), but only in women using estrogen alone (hazard ratio, 1.54). Among women who reported using estrogen alone, asthma risk was higher in never smokers (hazard ratio, 1.80) and in women reporting prior allergic disease (hazard ratio, 1.86).

"Postmenopausal use of estrogen alone was associated with an increased rate of newly diagnosed asthma in menopausal women," the authors conclude. "The increase in asthma risk associated with MHT [menopausal hormone therapy] must be judged in the light of all other health effects of MHT use, including its beneficial effect on the quality of life of menopausal women."

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