06 March 2009

Poor mental health linked to asthma

The presence of mental illness, and its severity, appear to confer an increased risk of developing asthma, researchers report.

The presence of mental illness, and its severity, appear to confer an increased risk of developing asthma, researchers report.

"The relationship of asthma with psychological factors has been known for centuries, and recently there has been a resurgence of interest in this topic," Dr. Thomas H. Chun, from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues point out in the medical journal Chest.

The researchers reexamined the relationship in a representative sample of the US population, using data from more than 355,000 subjects who participated in a 2006 survey. To the authors' knowledge, this is the largest investigation of the asthma-mental health connection.

Self-reported poor mental health was directly related to the odds of currently having asthma, the team found. Moreover, as the number of self-reported days of poor mental health increased, so did the likelihood of having asthma.

Specifically, asthma affected 6.2 percent of respondents with no mental health issues, 8.7 percent of those with 1-7 days of poor mental health, climbing stepwise to 21.6 percent of those with 22 days or more of poor mental health.

However, comments Dr. David M. Mannino, from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, in an editorial, "In the end, this analysis does not really differentiate whether the observed nexus is merely a linkage between two common problems, or indicative of a pathway where one problem is central to the development of the other." - (Reuters Health)

SOURCE: Chest, December 2008

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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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