Asthma Is Associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Excess Weight

April 01, 2016

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Boston, MA - Among reproductive-age women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as well as overweight and obesity are independently linked with asthma, new preliminary research from Australia suggests. The results will be presented in a poster Saturday, April 2, at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in Boston.

“A greater proportion of women with polycystic ovary syndrome report asthma, and the results of this study suggest that asthma is associated with PCOS and excess weight,” said lead author Anju Elizabeth Joham, MBBS, FRACP, an endocrinologist and postdoctoral research fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“These findings highlight that polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex disorder that includes significant inflammatory underpinnings. These results also raise awareness of the need to consider higher risks in other health areas in this condition,” Joham said.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common ailment among women of childbearing age, but no studies of the relationships of asthma with PCOS and weight have been published to date.

Joham and her colleagues assessed the prevalence of asthma in reproductive-age women. They also investigated the impact of obesity on the prevalence of asthma in the women who had PCOS compared with those who did not have PCOS.

To examine these links, Joham and her colleagues analyzed data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), an ongoing national periodic survey that has been following more than 58,000 Australian women of various ages since 1996 and periodically collecting data from them about the factors that influence their health.

The researchers randomly selected the survey responses of 9,145 women about their polycystic ovary syndrome and asthma status. Among the women aged 28 to 33 years, PCOS prevalence was 5.8 percent. Among the women reporting PCOS, asthma prevalence was 15.2% compared with 10.6% among those not reporting PCOS.

The study showed that PCOS status and body mass index (BMI) in both the overweight and obese categories were independently associated with asthma.

Of the women reporting asthma, mean BMI was significantly higher in those reporting PCOS compared with those not reporting PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome was associated with increased odds of asthma. BMI in the overweight and obese ranges was also associated with increased odds of asthma.

“The results of this observational study need to be confirmed with results in other populations, and exploration of these relationships in longitudinal studies is needed,” Joham said.

The study is based on research conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the Medical Research Council funded the study.

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