Because the research subjects were mostly men age 60 and older, the findings raise perhaps more troubling questions about the medication's effects on women with COPD, a group already at a significantly higher risk than men for fractures.
"There are millions of COPD patients who use long-term inhaled corticosteroids in the United States and millions more across the world," says Sonal Singh, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the senior author of the study published online in the journal Thorax. "The number of people who are getting fractures because of these medications is quite large."
The inhaled corticosteroids evaluated were fluticasone, sold in combination with salmeterol as Advair, and budesonide, sold in combination with formoterol as Symbicort. Although applied through the mouth, the body absorbs corticosteroids, which have long been linked to a decline in bone density. Until now, no reliable association had been found to fractures in patients with COPD, Singh says.
Singh and his colleagues reviewed and analyzed two different sets of research studies comparing inhaled corticosteroids to a placebo in COPD patients. One study looked at 16 long-term double-blind randomized controlled trials with more than 17,500 participants; the other examined seven observational studies with 69,000 participants. In both, the researchers found a significantly increased risk of fractures for those using inhaled corticosteroids. The observational studies also found evidence of dose-response that fracture risk increased as steroid dosage increased.
Recent research has linked other popular medications to increased fracture risk, notably proton-pump inhibitors given for heartburn and some diabetes drugs, such as rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos).
Inhaled corticosteroids are used to reduce the frequency of hospitalizations in patients with moderate to severe COPD. "Patients need to know about this risk along with the benefits of these inhaled medications," Singh says. "People who continue to use inhaled corticosteroids should pay attention to bone health and consider the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time. The risks may be somewhat mitigated with bone-building drugs."
Patients with COPD, the researchers note, are already at a high risk of osteoporosis and fractures, which may stem from nutritional deficiencies or previous corticosteroid use. At larger doses, adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids may come close to that of oral steroids, which are well known to increase bone loss and decrease bone formation.
Singh says he would like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to look into the issues discovered in this research by his team and his colleagues from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and the University of Louisville in the United States.
Although many asthma patients also take inhaled corticosteroids, Singh says his research does not apply to that mostly younger cohort since they were not included in the study.
Singh says he is most concerned about those who were not the focus of this study: women.
"It was surprising to find an increased risk of fractures in this study where two-thirds of the participants were men over the age of 60," Singh says. "It really makes us wonder what is happening to women with COPD who use inhalers, because older women are already at a much higher fracture risk than men."
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources and the NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research.
For more information: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gim/faculty/Singh.html
Stephanie Desmon | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy