HRT Raises Asthma Risks Among Older Women
Menopausal Hormone Therapy May Increase Asthma in Postmenopausal Women
Feb. 23, 2004 -- Taking menopausal hormone therapy may increase
the risk of asthma among postmenopausal women, according to new study.
Researchers found postmenopausal women on estrogen alone or
estrogen plus progestin were more than twice as likely to develop asthma than
women who never used hormones.
But the same study shows that menopausal hormone therapy does
not increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Researchers say that a person's risk of developing asthma
varies by age and sex. Asthma rates are higher among women than men until about
age 50, when the asthma rates among men and women become about equal.
HRT May Raise Asthma Risks
In the study, researchers used data from the Nurse's Health
Study, which involved 121,700 registered female nurses who were between 30 and
55 years old when the study began in 1976. The participants were mailed
questionnaires every two years that included questions on hormone use, medical
history, diet and lifestyle, and other factors.
From 1988 to 1996, the participants were also asked about new
asthma and COPD diagnoses.
Researchers found that current use of estrogen was associated
with a 2.29 times higher risk of asthma compared with women who never used
hormones. A similar increase in risk was found among women who used estrogen
plus progestin HRT.
But the rates of newly diagnosed COPD were similar among HRT
and non-HRT users.
The results appear in the Feb. 23 issue of The Archives of
The study also shows that the increased rates of asthma
associated with menopausal hormone therapy leveled off and returned to normal
within four years after hormone therapy was discontinued.
Researchers say it's unclear exactly how current use of HRT
affects asthma risks. But they say estrogen is known to have a variety of pro-
and anti-inflammatory effects within the body that may negatively affect lung