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Women taking HRT have more asthma

Women on HRT are up to 50 per cent more likely to suffer from asthma, according to major research funded by the European Union.

The conference heard patients who used HRT were also 30 per cent more likely to have hay fever.

Researchers examined use of any HRT regimen and prevalence of asthma and respiratory allergies in 2,589 women aged over 45 from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Iceland.

Women drawn from the 140,000-patient European community respiratory health survey were questioned in 1993 and again between 1999 and 2002.

Those using HRT were between 40 and 50 per cent more likely to suffer from

asthma or exhibit symptoms than women not using the therapy. The extra risk increased to 60 per cent for

allergic asthma.

Lead author Dr Cecilie Svanes, a researcher at the University of Bergen, said the epidemiological study suggested a 'definite link' but stressed it would have to be confirmed by further clinical studies.

Dr Hilary Pinnock, adviser to the British Thoracic Society asthma guidelines, said a link was plausible. 'Some ladies have problems with asthma premenstrually, so clearly there is a hormonal link,' she added.'

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