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An asthma inhaler

There's no evidence that asthma inhalers are linked to prostate cancer

Asthmatic men may have been alarmed to read recent headlines claiming a link between inhalers to treat the condition and prostate cancer. But the headlines don’t actually reflect the true story. Fortunately, the excellent NHS Choices Behind the Headlines blog has stepped in to clear up the misinformation.

They explain:

“This… study has found an association between reports of asthma and later development of prostate cancer. It is difficult to interpret some of the findings, and the researchers acknowledge that it is difficult to unpick the effects of asthma medications from the asthma diagnosis itself.”

They also noted that the study didn’t take into account a number of other factors in the study that are involved in prostate cancer, like a man’s family history of the disease. This made it impossible to draw firm conclusions from study. They went on to conclude:

“This research may inspire further study into the association between asthma and the risk of cancer, but the bottom line is that there is no evidence from this study that using asthma medication increases the risk of prostate cancer in people with asthma.”

This is a striking example of how inaccurate coverage of scientific studies in the media may cause unnecessary worry, and only adds to the confusion surrounding reporting of cancer risks.

Read more at NHS Choices Behind the Headlines.



Richard Friedel December 21, 2010

A relevant but strangely ignored or not generally known fact about asthma and breathing troubles is that the change between weak (asthmatic) and strong (healthy) breathing is dependent on abdominal muscle tension. Slackening the muscles here causes abysmally weak and asthmatic breathing. Instead of describing an asthma attack as being like breathing through a straw (57,00 Google hits), attempting to breathe vigorously with relaxed abdominal muscles provides a more genuine illustrative example. Training the muscles, for example by “abdominal hollowing” (see Web articles) produces an antiasthmatic effect. Abdominal muscle tension plays a prominent part in Asian martial arts.

So it is fair to assume that there is a natural breathing spectrum with an asthmatic tendency at one end and Ku Fu or Karate breathing at the other end. For a few words on the Japanese version of Asian breathing see

I personally tend to breathe asthmatically after an evening meal or in pollen-laden air. Breathing powerfully into my lower abdomen with tensed muscles provides an effective cure for me. But then I’ve always been sceptical about medical wisdom on asthma: such a paradoxical and doctor-baffling increase in the last 40 years with modern, merely symptomatic inhalers. Respectfully, Richard Friedel

Kevan Gelling August 11, 2010

Glucocorticoids increase the production of the enzyme that breaks down the active form of vitamin D (1) presumably leading to less vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to prostate cancer (2).

So it’s not surprising to see heavy glucocorticoids use being linked to a vitamin D morbidity such as prostate cancer.

1. Dhawan, P. & Christakos, S. Novel regulation of 25-hydroxyvitamin d(3) 24-hydroxylase (24(oh)ase) transcription by glucocorticoids: Cooperative effects of the glucocorticoid receptor, c/ebpbeta, and the vitamin d receptor in 24(oh)ase transcription. Journal of cellular biochemistry (2010). URL
2. Bao, Y. et al. Predicted vitamin d status and pancreatic cancer risk in two prospective cohort studies. British journal of cancer (2010). URL