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Vietnam Vets Study Links Asthma and PTSD
Date:11/15/2007

Research in twins found those with most stress symptoms 2.3 times more likely to have respiratory condition

THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- 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.

The twins were either identical (meaning they shared all the same genetic material) or fraternal (sharing only half their genetic material). Such twin studies are useful to science, because they can help tease out genetic and environmental influences.

The twins in this study had all lived together as children and had all served on active military duty in Vietnam. There were no significant differences in history of combat exposure or cigarette smoking. The overall prevalence of asthma was 6 percent and was about the same in
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