According to Asthma + Lung UK, a scientific body, two-thirds of deaths from asthma in the UK are in women. Medical research, for lack of resources, obscures the impact of female sex hormones on this pathology. And yet…
across the Channel, women are twice as likely to die of an asthma attack as men, according to the new Asthma + Lung scientific study, relayed by The GuardianApril 27, 2022. Health experts are calling for urgent research into sex differences in this disease.
Asthma is an inflammatory pathology that attacks the bronchi and to the ducts involved in the transit of air to the lungs. Sometimes the bronchi can react badly to certain stimuli such as dust mites, pollen, air pollution, tobacco smoke or even certain viruses and even foods. Result ? Their wall ignites strongly and one simply has the impression of suffocating.
Women and men unequal in the face of asthma
More likely to develop the disease, develop a severe form of it, and even die from a stroke… Asthma does not spare women. In the UK, over the past five years, they represent more than two thirds of deaths due to this pathology.
The scientific body assured that the current approach to the treatment of asthma ” does not work “. In effect, it does not take into account the impact that female sex hormones during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can have on asthma symptoms and attacks.
On life support at age 22 due to asthma and menstruation
Poppy Hadkinson, 30, a local TV presenter, told The Guardianthat his asthma diagnosed at the age of 11, in full puberty, worsened depending on her menstrual cycle.
“There seemed to be a recurring pattern in my symptoms, related to my menstrual cycle. Almost every month before my period, I was really sick with my asthma. I had trouble breathing, which was terrifying, and I often ended up in the hospital. The asthma attacks I suffered were so severe that I was on life support four times when I was 22 and wondering if I would make it to my next birthday. »
Poppy Hadkinson was then put on treatment: a biological drug, omalizumab, which changed his life, but unfortunately does not work for everyone.
No financial means granted to research on female asthma
Asthma + Lung UK therefore encourages GPs to explore all potential triggers with their patients in order to create personalized adjustments in their treatment. The scientific body also advises women to take their preventative medications, attend their annual asthma check-up and keep a diary of their symptoms.
Women themselves must therefore participate in scientific research forgotten by medicine… A shame! Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, speaks out lack of financial means to conduct these studies.
“When it comes to research funding, women with asthma have drawn the short straw. Gaps in our knowledge fail women, leaving them with debilitating asthma symptoms, stuck in a cycle of hospitalization and, in some cases, losing their lives. »
A first study on gender inequalities in asthma carried out in France
Return to France where more than 4 million people suffer from asthma, according to health insurance. The pathology is far from benign: about 900 people die from it every year.
In 2018, a team of French researchers from the Toulouse-Purpan physiopathology center, led by Jean-Charles Guéry, looked into this possible link between the immune system and sex hormones which could explain the inequalities between men and women in the face of asthma.
First observation: during childhood, Before the age of 10, precisely, there is a greater prevalence of developing this pathology in boys than in girls. However, at the time of puberty, the trend is reversed: in adults asthma is twice as common in women and the latter would develop more severe forms of the disease.
Would testosterone prevent asthma?
Type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) are the immune cells involved in the development of asthma. After several experiments on male and female mice, castrated or not, French scientists hypothesized that male hormones, such as testosterone, are said to play a key role in the development of asthma.
After many experiences in vitrothe researchers demonstrated that testosterone prevented the deployment of ILC2 immune cells. To validate their hypothesis, they proved that an anti-androgen, a molecule that decreases the activity of male hormones, had the opposite effect on type 2 innate lymphoid cells.
Could testosterone be the solution? Still, no miracle treatment has been found… And French research seems to have stopped there. That’s right, why rush for women with asthma who suffocate?…
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Sexism in the hospital does not only mistreat female patients: 85% of female doctors have already felt discriminated against
Featured Image: © Sahej Brar – Unsplash