A recent study indicates that PTSD may not be associated with genetics, as thought, but rather connected to asthma. According to the study, Vietnam veterans who suffered severely from PTSD are 2.3 times more likely to have asthma than those with mild PTSD symptoms. Researchers theorize that the relationship may be due to the association that PTSD has with decreased immune functioning, which may account for increased instance of asthma. Conversely, however, asthma itself may increase a soldier’s vulnerability to traumatic events. The following is an excerpt of an article from CBC News that reviews the study:
A study of male twins who served in Vietnam has uncovered a strong link between asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Columbia University researchers, reporting in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that those who suffered the most from PTSD were more than twice as likely to have asthma.
“This is very good data,” said Keith A. Young, co-director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System Neuropsychiatry Research Program. “One of the things that is very clearly delineated by this study is that there truly is an association. This association has been seen with other anxiety disorders before, and there were some hints with PTSD, but this is the best. This kind of sets it in stone.”
The challenge now is to find out whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship.
Previous studies have indicated a more general link between anxiety disorders and asthma, but this study focused specifically on PTSD, a disorder that involves nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks linked to “triggers” that develop after exposure to combat or other extremely disturbing events.
This study looked at 3,065 male twin pairs listed in the Vietnam Era Twin Registry.