Elevated Asthma Risk Linked to PCOS Diagnosis in Reproductive-Aged Women

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Caucasian race, body mass index, and smoking status were associated with elevated asthma risk.
Caucasian race, body mass index, and smoking status were associated with elevated asthma risk.

Women of reproductive age with a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at an elevated risk of developing asthma, according to research presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2017 International Conference, held May 19-24 in Washington, DC.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic used data from a large clinical registry in the United States to collect data from women between ages 20 and 49 years, with or without a diagnosis of PCOS. The researchers aimed to determine whether women with PCOS in this patient population were at higher risk of developing asthma as a result of unopposed estrogen and disturbances in sex hormones.

A total of 4,159,980 women were in the database; 2.3% of these women (n=94,460) had a PCOS diagnosis. Asthma prevalence was found to be higher in women with PCOS vs women in the control group (21.6% vs 13.7%; P <.001), an association still noted after stratification of subgroups by age and body mass index.

Ultimately, the researchers found that a PCOS diagnosis was associated with an increased asthma risk (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.59; 95% CI, 1.57-1.61; P <.001). Among women with PCOS, race and ethnicity, body mass index, and smoking history were found to increase asthma risk, with a higher risk noted once patients with COPD or a history of smoking were excluded (aOR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.79-1.85).

The study investigators attributed this elevated risk to sex hormone disturbances, concluding that "the hyperandrogenism involved in PCOS does not appear to offer any overall protection in this setting."

Reference

Zein JG, Yaqoob Z, Al-Kindi SG, et al. Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with higher risk for asthma. Presented at: American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2017 International Conference; Washington, DC; May 19-24, 2017. Abstract A1307.