For Black Women, Depression May Increase the Risk of Adult-Onset Asthma

bostonuniversityA study by researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University finds that depressive symptoms may be linked to the development of adult-onset asthma among African American women.

Researchers tracked nearly 32,000 African American women from 1999 to 2011 who completed health questionnaires every two years. The researchers rated the frequency with which women experienced 20 depressive symptoms. The research team found that as the frequency of depressive symptoms increased, the incidence of adult-onset asthma also rose.

Patricia Coogan, a research professor at the Slone Epidemiology Center, stated, “The hypothesized mechanism linking depressive symptoms to asthma incidence is stress and its physiological consequences — particularly, effects on the immune system and the airways. Psychological stress can bias the immune system to responses that might contribute to asthma.” Dr. Coogan hypothesized that incidents of racism produce stress and this stress contributes to a weakening of the immune system that could lead to adult-onset asthma.

The study, “Depressive Symptoms and the Incidence of Adult-Onset Asthma in African American Women,” was published on the website of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. It may be accessed here.

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