Reduced Benefit, Elevated Risk of Opioid Therapy in Women with Chronic Noncancer Pain

A new study appearing in Journal of Women’s Health reports that long term opioid therapy is significantly less effective in women—especially younger women—than in men, as a treatment approach for chronic noncancer pain. Less than 20% of women receiving chronic opioid therapy report lower pain levels and better life function, according to the study findings. The authors further report that the likelihood of unfavorable outcome is particularly high in younger women, and that this population faces additional risks from opioids that include reduced fertility and potential danger to the developing fetus during pregnancy.

The study was undertaken by researchers from University of Washington School of Dentistry and School of Medicine, and Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California. Journal of Women’s Health editor-in-chief Susan Kornstein, MD, commented on the research “Given the high rates of chronic opioid use in women along with evidence of poor relief from pain and concerning risks, particularly in reproductive-aged women, we need more effective and safer options for managing pain in this population.”

A press release about the study findings , with link to the journal article, may be read here.

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