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Does asthma development increase the risk of subsequent cancer? Answer for the inconclusive debate.

Published online: May 13, 2020

Whether asthma development is a risk factor of incident cancer has challenged researchers for decades, their efforts yielding controversial and inconclusive results of such an association.

In The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Woo and colleagues report an analysis of the risk of cancer development after asthma diagnosis using two independent, population-based, longitudinal cohorts: the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort, ages 20 to 70 years (n = 475,197) and the Ansan-Ansung cohort (n = 5440), ages 40 to 69 years.

The results of this study indicate that adults with asthma diagnosed after age 20 had a 75% greater risk of incident cancer overall. The excess risk for incident cancer was greatest during the first 2 years after asthma diagnosis, and this risk remained elevated. Patients with non-atopic asthma had a greater risk of overall cancer compared with those with atopic asthma. Moreover, a high cumulative dose of inhaled corticosteroids among asthma patients was associated with a 56% reduced risk of lung cancer, but had no effect on the risk of overall cancer.

In summary, the authors found that asthma development was associated with an increased risk of subsequent cancer in two different Korean cohorts. The findings of this study provide an improved understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma and its relationship with carcinogenesis and suggest that clinicians should be aware of the higher risk of incident cancer among asthmatic patients.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

Graphical Abstract

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