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The use of inhaled corticosteroids has been associated with a dose-related increased risk of fracture. This may be related to systemic absorption. However, several studies have found that patients with more severe reductions in pulmonary function had reduced bone mineral density, independent of inhaled corticosteroids. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between disease severity and fracture risk. A large case-control study (108,754 cases) was conducted using data from the UK General Practice Research Database. It was found that higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids were associated with greater risks of fracture. The crude odds ratio of fracture among patients exposed to >1,600 microg beclomethasone equivalents per day was 1.95 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.68-2.27). When adjustments were made for disease severity and use of bronchodilators, the initial dose-response relationship between inhaled corticosteroids and fracture risk disappeared (adjusted odds ratio of 1.19 (95% CI 1.01-1.41)). In conclusion, patients with severe obstructive airway disease are at risk of fracture. However, adequate adjustment for disease severity is essential when the association between the use of inhaled corticosteroids and risk of osteoporotic fracture is studied in observational research.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur respir j

Publication Date





879 - 884


Administration, Inhalation, Adrenal Cortex Hormones, Aged, Asthma, Bronchodilator Agents, Case-Control Studies, Comorbidity, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Female, Fractures, Spontaneous, Humans, Lung Diseases, Obstructive, Male, Middle Aged, Odds Ratio, Osteoporosis, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Risk Factors, Smoking, United Kingdom