Estrogen-only HRT linked to asthma after menopause
A study involving nearly 58,000 women in France over a 12-year period suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase a woman’s risk of developing asthma after menopause. Researchers from the Gustave Roussy Institute in France and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica in Mexico published the findings in the British medical journal, Thorax. The study suggested that women who took HRT were 21 percent more likely to develop asthma than women who did not take HRT. The risk was even greater for women who took estrogen-only HRT compared to the combined estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, with the estrogen-only group at 54 percent greater risk of developing asthma compared to women who did not take HRT. This is the first long-term, large-scale study to suggest that estrogen-only HRT puts women at much greater risk of asthma than the combined therapy.
Asthma is more common in young women after they begin having periods, and hospitalizations due to asthma is higher among women than men. The severity of asthma also varies during a woman’s menstrual cycle and when she is pregnant. But studies show that asthma generally wanes after menopause.
Estrogen-only HRT has already been linked to uterine cancer in women who still had their uteruses, but the combined therapy was deemed safer for women who had not undergone a hysterectomy. Once thought to be a cure-all for not only menopausal symptoms but also for cancer and heart disease, the estrogen-plus-progestin HRT became a billion-dollar industry in the late 20th Century. But in 2002, a large-scale federal study found that women who took the combined HRT were at greater risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Since 2002, HRT use among women has dropped significantly.