Menopause is associated with lower lung function and more respiratory symptoms, especially among lean women, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI).
The study, "Lung function, respiratory symptoms, and the menopausal transition," can be found in the articles in press section of the JACI Web site. The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Francisco Gómez Real, MD, and colleagues studied a group of women aged 45-56 years who were not taking sex hormones. The women provided information about their lung health and menstrual history and the ratio of height to weight, body mass index (BMI).
The researchers found:
Women who had stopped menstruating had significantly lower lung function and more respiratory symptoms than did women of the same age who were menstruating regularly.
Lean women (BMIs of less than 23 kg/m²) showed a greater risk for lung problems.
The authors speculate that lower lung function in menopausal women could be explained by increased insulin resistance in menopause. Furthermore, because insulin resistance is a proinflammatory condition, this could also explain the increase in respiratory symptoms associated with menopause.
Clinicians should be aware of increased asthma risk and lower lung function in women, especially lean women, reaching menopause.