Does postmenopausal hormonal therapy cause asthma?

January 01, 0001

Does postmenopausal hormonal therapy cause asthma?

Studies have suggested links between hormones, especially menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), and asthma. These Mexican and French investigators tested the link between the use of MHT and the risk of asthma onset from 1990 to 2002 by biennial questionnaires as part of the French E3N cohort study. Cox proportional hazards models were used, adjusting for potential confounding factors.

The researchers report: "Results Among 57,664 women free of asthma at menopause, 569 incident cases of asthma were identified during 495,448 years of follow-up. MHT was related to an increased risk of asthma onset (HR=1.20) among recent users. The increase in risk of asthma onset was only significant among women reporting the use of oestrogen alone (HR=1.54, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.09) particularly in never smokers (HR=1.80, 95%) and women reporting allergic disease prior to asthma onset (HR=1.86). A small increase in the risk of asthma onset associated with the use of oestrogen/progestagen was also observed in these subgroups."

The authors concluded: "Postmenopausal use of oestrogen alone was associated with an increased rate of newly diagnosed asthma in menopausal women."

This large cohort study suggests a possible link between postmenopausal hormone therapy and new onset of asthma, especially with unopposed estrogens.

For the full abstract, click here.

Thorax 65(4):292-297, April 2010
© 2010 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & British Thoracic Society
Postmenopausal hormone therapy and asthma onset in the E3N cohort. Isabelle Romieu, Alban Fabre, Agnes Fournier, et al. Correspondence to Isabelle Romieu: [email protected]

Category: R. Respiratory, X. Female Genital System, Breast. Keywords: asthma, new onset asthma, postmenopausal, estrogen, progesterone, cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 30 April 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.