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Does inflammation contribute to premenstrual symptoms?

Women with premenstrual symptoms (PMS) including mood swings, weight gain/bloating, and abdominal cramps/back pain have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of inflammation associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Establishing a link between inflammation and PMS would have important implications for treatment and prevention using anti-inflammatory agents and for cardiovascular disease risk reduction, according to an article in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free for download on the Journal of Women’s Health website until July 16, 2016.

Ellen Gold, PhD and coauthors, University of California, Davis, analyzed data collected on a racially and ethnically diverse group of midlife women as part of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). In the article “The Association of Inflammation with Premenstrual Symptoms,” the researchers report a significant association between a level of high sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) >3 mg/L with four of the five mood and physical symptoms evaluated.

In the accompanying Editorial entitled “Chronic Inflammation and Premenstrual Syndrome: A Missing Link Found?,” Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, ScD, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, states: “Establishing PMS as an inflammatory condition suggests that PMS may be a useful sentinel of future chronic disease risk…This intriguing possibility also suggests that treatment of premenstrual symptoms with therapies targeting inflammation could have positive impacts on long-term chronic disease risk.”

“The majority of women experience at least some premenstrual symptoms. Recognizing an underlying inflammatory basis for PMS would open the door to additional treatment and prevention options and create a new opportunity for long-term risk intervention,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health.

Article: The Association of Inflammation with Premenstrual Symptoms, Gold Ellen B., Wells Craig, and Rasor Marianne O’Neill, Journal of Women’s Health, doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5529, published online 2 May 2016.