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New Study Links Asthma To Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Excess Weight

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A Western Australian study reveals that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and excessive weight and obesity are independently associated with asthma. The data was presented during the annual Endocrine Society conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 2.

Also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, PCOS, which affects one in every 20 women in the United States, is a metabolic condition often diagnosed during a woman's childbearing age. It is characterized by enlarged ovaries with underdeveloped egg follicles that cannot be fertilized, making it one of the common reasons for female infertility.

Women with PCOS may also have hirsutism or excessive body hair, excess weight and obesity, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to insulin resistance, as well as cardiovascular disease risk.

However, the study by Monash University postdoctoral fellow and endocrinologist Anju Elizabeth Joham and colleagues suggests that the condition may also be associated with asthma.

Trying to find out the connection between asthma and women in childbearing ages, as well as the impact of excess weight in the chances of asthma risk among PCOS women, the researchers randomly chose 9,145 PCOS women between the ages of 28 and 33 years old from a national periodic survey and matched them with a control group who are women with no PCOS.

The researchers then monitored the hospital admissions of the participants until 35.8 years old and noted that PCOS women had a higher prevalence of asthma at 15.2 percent than non-PCOS women at 10.6 percent. PCOS women with asthma prevalence also tend to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than non-PCOS women with asthma.

"These findings highlight that polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex disorder that includes significant inflammatory underpinnings," said Joham. Asthma has long been associated with the inflammation of the passageways, which could trigger spasm of the bronchial tubes and constriction of the airways.

Further, a high BMI, which could indicate obesity or overweight, is linked to an increased risk of asthma.

Although more studies need to be done, "these results also raise awareness of the need to consider higher risks in other health areas in this [PCOS] condition," added Joham.

Other studies have also linked asthma with shingles and keratoconus disease.

Photo: Jenn Durfey | Flickr

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