Study links asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder

Nov 15, 2007

For the first time, a study has linked asthma with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among adults in the community. The study of male twins who were veterans of the Vietnam era suggests that the association between asthma and PTSD is not primarily explained by common genetic influences.

The study included 3,065 male twin pairs, who had lived together in childhood, and who had both served on active military duty during the Vietnam War. The study found that among all twins, those who suffered from the most PTSD symptoms were 2.3 times as likely to have asthma compared with those who suffered from the least PTSD symptoms.

The research was published in the first issue for November 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

The study included both monozygotic (identical) twins, who share all the same genetic material, and dizygotic (fraternal) twins, who share only half of the same genetic material. “If there had been a strong genetic component to the link between asthma and PTSD, the results between these two types of twins would have been different, but we didn’t find substantial differences between the two,” said lead researcher Renee D. Goodwin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.

Several other studies have found a relationship between asthma and other anxiety disorders, Dr. Goodwin noted. This new research also confirmed previous findings that linked asthma with a higher risk of depression. “No one knows the reason for the association between asthma and mental disorders,” she said. “Asthma could increase the risk of anxiety disorders, or anxiety disorders might cause asthma, or there could be common risk factors for both asthma and anxiety disorders. Our study found the association between asthma and PTSD does not appear to be primarily due to a common genetic predisposition.”

The researchers found the association between asthma and PTSD existed even after they took into account factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity and socioeconomic status, all of which are associated with both anxiety disorders and asthma.

“It is conceivable that traumatic stress, which has been associated with compromised immune functioning, leads to increased vulnerability to immune-system-related diseases, including asthma,” Dr. Goodwin and colleagues wrote. “Alternatively, it may be that having asthma places adults at increased risk for PTSD as it increases the likelihood that they will be exposed to a traumatic situation because they have a life-threatening chronic medical condition.”

The findings suggest that a person with asthma who experiences a traumatic event may benefit from seeking professional help, because they could be more vulnerable to developing post-traumatic stress disorder, Dr. Goodwin said.

Source: American Thoracic Society

Explore further: New protein booster may lead to better DNA vaccines and gene therapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pleurobot is salamander-like robot with lifelike motion

6 hours ago

A video showing "multimodal locomotion in a bioinspired robot" has been making the rounds, and the video demonstrates advances in robotics as scientific tools as well as potential robots for search and rescue ...

Recommended for you

Gut microbial mix relates to stages of blood sugar control

52 minutes ago

The composition of intestinal bacteria and other micro-organisms—called the gut microbiota—changes over time in unhealthy ways in black men who are prediabetic, a new study finds. The results will be presented Friday ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.