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COPD May Make Shingles More Likely

Last Updated: February 22, 2011.

People taking corticosteroids for breathing disorder face highest risk, study finds.

TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are more likely than others to develop shingles, according to a new study.

Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, and results in a painful rash with lesions.

Though it was already known that people with a weakened immune system face an increased risk for the condition, the researchers of the current study wanted to look specifically at people with COPD. The study authors analyzed data on 42,430 Taiwan residents, including 8,486 people with COPD.

During the follow-up period, 321 cases of shingles were diagnosed among those with COPD (16.4 cases per 1,000 person-years) and 759 cases among the others (8.8 cases per 1,000 person-years).

The risk was highest for people taking inhaled or oral corticosteroids to treat COPD, the investigators found. Hui-Wen Lin and colleagues from the Taipei Medical University wrote that it's also possible that "increased [COPD] severity further contributed to the increased risk of herpes zoster associated with COPD."

The study is published in the Feb. 22 issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about shingles.

SOURCE: CMAJ: the Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, Feb. 22, 2011