04 November 2010

Asthma linked to lung cancer

Researchers believe they have found a correlation between asthma and lung cancer, and although it is still a correlation study, researchers say it highlights the importance of treatment.


University of Missouri researchers believe they have found a correlation between asthma and lung cancer in a small study.

Previous research has shown a correlation between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer, but this is the first time such a link has been shown for asthma and lung cancer, the researchers said.

However, based on the available data, people with asthma should not worry that they are at an increased risk for developing lung cancer, said Dr Marilyn Glassberg, an associate professor of clinical medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"This is a correlation study," she said. "The problem with correlation studies is you never get cause-and-effect." Still, "it's of interest," she added.

How the study was done

For the study, Guntur's team examined the medical records of 759 lung cancer patients and similar patients without lung cancer.

The researchers found that 46.2% of those with asthma also had lung cancer, compared with 22.5% of those without asthma.

The researchers speculate that "chronic repeated inflammatory insults from asthma" could trigger lung cancer, but exactly how that might happen remains unclear, they said.

The authors say their study "underscores the importance of more aggressive management of inflammatory airway disease, development of diagnostics for early and ideally noninvasive screening and risk stratification, and promotion of additional research on the mechanisms of carcinogenesis induced by inflammation."

Glassberg took issue with the findings, noting that while asthma and COPD scar the lungs, lung cancer is not caused by scarring of lung tissue. Also, she said it doesn't appear that the researchers took into account smoking, which is a major cause of lung cancer.

"This is not going to change how we take care of people, or [cause us] to screen asthmatics for lung cancer," she said.

(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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