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Menopause increases asthma risk

Published Online: October 2, 2015

During the last decades female life expectancy has risen far beyond 50 years worldwide. This means that the quality of life after menopause is highly relevant today. Menopause implies profound hormonal and metabolic changes leading to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Although researchers are increasingly aware that hormonal status and inflammation may also deteriorate respiratory health, our knowledge is very scarce. So far, no prospective study had investigated whether menopause increases the risk of asthma in the general population.

In an article recently published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Triebner and colleagues theorized that menopause might increase the risk for developing asthma. They used data from the “Respiratory Health in Northern Europe” study, which included 2,322 women from random population samples in Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia. These women provided information on their respiratory health and menopausal status in 2000 and 2012.

The researchers studied the association between menopausal status and newly diagnosed asthma, after the age of 44. They found that the odds of getting asthma were more than twice as high for women going through the menopausal transition or after menopause, compared to non-menopausal women. The risk was particularly high for overweight and obese women. The results were not due to general aging and were independent of smoking and geographical location.

Women and health care providers should therefore be aware of symptoms of asthma around the age of menopause. Policy makers should consider the burden and costs of menopausal asthma, and further research should focus on life style intervention in order to prevent or improve menopausal asthma.

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

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