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

Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source
Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source
More than 4 million women were included in an examination of the relationship between asthma and polycystic ovary syndrome.

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.”

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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.