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Monday, February 15, 2010

Estrogen Replacement and Asthma Risk

Is a significant risk of developing asthma a fair trade for getting rid of hot flashes and night sweats? An article published in the British journal Thorax reports that French women who used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were 21% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma than those women who never used HRT. Women who used estrogen-only HRT were 54% more likely to develop asthma compared to their “natural” menopause counterparts.

Estrogen and asthma pathogenesis have been studied, but the findings are equivocal. Estrogen is known to have both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, such as suppressing airway hyperresponsiveness, enhancing nitrous oxide synthetase metabolism, and inhibiting cortisone conversion to cortisol.

The authors suggest that the estrogen effects are likely to be a combination of these mechanisms interacting with the individual’s genetic background. The authors point out that their results on the increased risk associated with estrogen-only HRT must be evaluated in the context of other benefits associated with HRT in menopausal women.

What do you think? Please feel free to post your own comments below. Topics and articles that you think would be of interest in our NBOP section and/or this blog can be sent to the JACI Editorial Office at


  1. Editor’s note: Decreased lung function has been associated with lean, menopausal women previously. It was suggested that the mechanism might involve increased insulin resistance and inflammation associated with decreased estrogen levels. For more information, see the open-access article by Real et al., JACI 2008 (

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