Asthmatic men may have been alarmed to read recent headlines claiming a link between inhalers to treat the condition and prostate cancer. But the headlines don’t actually reflect the true story. Fortunately, the excellent NHS Choices Behind the Headlines blog has stepped in to clear up the misinformation.
“This… study has found an association between reports of asthma and later development of prostate cancer. It is difficult to interpret some of the findings, and the researchers acknowledge that it is difficult to unpick the effects of asthma medications from the asthma diagnosis itself.”
They also noted that the study didn’t take into account a number of other factors in the study that are involved in prostate cancer, like a man’s family history of the disease. This made it impossible to draw firm conclusions from study. They went on to conclude:
“This research may inspire further study into the association between asthma and the risk of cancer, but the bottom line is that there is no evidence from this study that using asthma medication increases the risk of prostate cancer in people with asthma.”
This is a striking example of how inaccurate coverage of scientific studies in the media may cause unnecessary worry, and only adds to the confusion surrounding reporting of cancer risks.