Corticosteroid use in women tied to risk for metabolic syndrome

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Women using corticosteroids (CS) may have an increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome (MetS), according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Dutch researchers performed a cross-sectional analysis of 140,879 adults identified from the Lifelines Cohort Study, a population-based prospective study.

The overall use of systemic and local CS was associated with a higher likelihood of having MetS in women (adjusted OR, 1.24; P<.001) compared with non-users. The ORs for systemic and local CS use in women were 1.68 (P<.001) and 1.22 (P<.001), respectively. Among female users of local CS, the ORs for nasal and inhaled CS were 1.20 (P=.005) and 1.35 (P<.001), respectively. No association between use of CS and the risk for MetS was evident in men.

It is not clearly understood why the use of CS is associated with MetS in women and not men. This could be possibly attributed to the differences in pharmacokinetics and response to drugs among the sexes. The sexual dimorphism in fat distribution and variability in the influence of CS on sex hormones in men and women could also play a role. Women are also known to use inhaled CS more commonly and with a higher adherence and positive attitude than men.

"Our findings show inhaled CS to have a more pronounced association with MetS among women using local CS. Since inhaled CS is the most commonly prescribed CS group, this could have a significant public health implication," the authors commented.