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Oral contraceptives do not appear to affect cystic fibrosis disease severity

  • Researchers

    Kernan NG, Alton EW, Cullinan P, Griesenbach U, Bilton D.

  • Place of research

    Imperial College London, London, UK

  • Publication

    European Respiratory Journal, January 2013

  • Subjects

    , , , ,

  • Does the use of oral contraceptives affect disease severity for women with CF?

  • Why is this important?

    Several previous studies have suggested that sex may affect CF disease severity, with women being more severely affected. Some studies suggest that sex hormones may directly influence the severity of CF by altering salt transport in the lung. Many women with CF use sex hormone-based birth control, but it is unknown if this affects CF disease severity.

  • What did you do?

    Using data collected from CF patients at the Royal Brompton Hospital between 1981-2010 we compared various measures of disease severity (lung function, body mass index and days on intravenous antibiotics) in women who used oral contraceptives for a number of years compared to women who did not use hormone-based birth control.

  • What did you find?

    There appeared to be no differences between those women who received oral contraception and those who did not.

  • What does this mean and reasons for caution?

    Encouragingly, our results suggest that the use of hormone-based contraceptives does not appear to affect CF disease severity.
    However, this was a comparatively small, single centre study and confirmation of the results in a larger, multi-centre study would further strengthen the findings.

  • What's next?

    A larger study that collected data from many women would be needed to confirm the results.