Researchers at the University of Florida have found evidence of a positive link between asthma and cancer risk in US patients.  (AdobeStock)Asthma patients are nearly one and a half times more likely to develop cancer than those without the respiratory disease, a new study from the University of Florida has found.

The researchers analyzed a large statewide database of health records and administrative claims to reach their findings.

“Using real-world data, our study is the first to demonstrate a positive association between asthma and cancer risk among patients in the United States,” said Yi Guo, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics in the UF College of Medicine. and lead author of the study published March 31 in the journal Cancer Medicine. “Our findings suggest that further research is needed to further examine the mechanisms associated with asthma and cancer in the context of asthma prevalence.”

The study, supported by the Cancer Informatics Shared Resource at the UF Health Cancer Center, analyzed data from more than 90,000 adult patients with asthma from the OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network over an eight-year period. Comparing that data with a group of adults without asthma, the researchers found that patients with asthma were 1.36 times more likely to develop cancer. When evaluating specific cancers, researchers found that asthma patients had a higher risk of lung cancer, blood cancer, melanoma, kidney cancer, and ovarian cancer.

The researchers also found that inhaled steroids have a protective effect. When analyzing the data by specific cancer type, cancer risk was increased for asthma patients who did not use steroids for nine of the 13 analysed. Among patients with asthma who used steroids, there was an increased risk of cancer in only two of the 13 cancers studied. The 13 cancers were breast, prostate, lung, colorectal, blood, melanoma, endometrial, bladder, kidney, oral cavity and pharynx, pancreas, ovary, and cervical.

More than 20 million adults and more than 5 million children in the United States have asthma, a common respiratory disease characterized by chronic inflammation. Research suggests that about a quarter of all cancer cases may be due to chronic infection and inflammation, usually caused by infection or tissue injury that triggers an immune system response. If that initial acute response is poorly controlled, patients may develop chronic inflammation.

Despite the link, most previous studies of US patients have found no association between asthma and cancer except for lung cancer.

UF Health Cancer Center Director Jonathan D. “I was inspired to further examine this clinically relevant link after reading studies that found an association between asthma and cancer risk in patients from Europe and Japan,” Licht said. “I knew we had a wealth of data at our fingertips through the OneFlorida+ clinical network that would provide a large enough sample to investigate this question in a meaningful way. The robust database allowed us to accurately identify the US study population of asthma patients and assess their medical history and cancer outcomes.”

OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network, an initiative of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, integrates research at UF Health and UF Health Cancer Center and its partners across Florida, Georgia and Alabama. It is part of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded National Clinical Data Research Network known as PCORnet.

“The growing availability of large collections of real-world data, such as linked electronic health records, and the demands of large clinical data networks such as OneFlorida+ offer opportunities to generate evidence that reflects the treatment and care of patients in real clinical settings,” said Jiang Bian, Ph.D. D., UF Health’s chief data scientist, a professor in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics and director of the Cancer Informatics Shared Resource at the UF Health Cancer Center. “Data-driven research in biomedical research is evolving rapidly because of advances in artificial intelligence combined with this real-world data. The success of studies like this reinforces the importance of a solid data infrastructure like OneFlorida+.”

Media Contact: Leah Buletti, [email protected], 352-265-9429

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