Inhaled steroids reduce bone density in the spine of women with asthma, according to new research.

These latest findings, which reinforce the conclusion of earlier studies, could be important for patients inhaling steroids over several decades, particularly for women after the menopause, at higher risk of osteoporosis.

In this study, carried out by City Hospital, Nottingham, a total of 81 patients with asthma aged 20-40 years were monitored. Those who had taken inhaled steroids for at least five years were compared with those who had never used the drugs.

On analysis, the greater the cumulative dose of inhaled steroids, the greater the reduction in bone mineral density of the spine in women (JAMA, 1998; 279: 255).

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