Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 9-18% of reproductive-aged women1. Recent research suggests that women with PCOS may have a higher prevalence of asthma2,3. However, there is no epidemiological study aimed to explore the relationship between PCOS, asthma and the relationship with body mass index (BMI).
This study is a cross-sectional analyses of data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), a large, community-based, prospective study. For this study, the data from survey 4 undertaken in 2006 is examined for an association between self-reported PCOS and asthma in women aged 28-33 years (n=478 PCOS, n=8134 controls).
Reported prevalence of PCOS was 5.8% (95% CI: 5.3%-6.4%) and women with PCOS had a higher BMI than women without PCOS (mean BMI 27.8±0.4 vs 24.8±0.1 kg/m2, P<0.001). The prevalence of asthma was 15.2% in women with PCOS and 10.6% in women without PCOS (P=0.004). Women with PCOS reporting asthma had a trend for higher BMI compared to women without asthma (29.9±0.89 kg/m2 vs 27.7±0.36 kg/m2, P=0.05). Women without PCOS reporting asthma had a higher BMI compared to women without asthma (26.4±0.23 kg/m2 vs 24.9±0.65 kg/m2; P<0.001). After adjustment for age, BMI and smoking status, PCOS was associated with increased odds of asthma (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.004–1.79, P=0.047). BMI in the overweight and obese range were also associated with increased odds of asthma (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.02-1.50, P=0.03 and OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.46-2.15, P<0.001) respectively.
In this large community-based cohort of reproductive-aged women in Australia, both PCOS status and overweight and obese status were independently associated with asthma. With rising PCOS prevalence and associated health and economic burden, it is important to recognise that PCOS is complex and diverse with potential effects in health areas in addition to those conventionally associated with PCOS.