In a letter published in The Lancet last week, Italian researchers described an 18-year-old man for whom emotional stress associated with Facebook use seemed to trigger asthma exacerbations.
‘Considering the high prevalence of asthma, especially among young people, we suggest that this type of trigger be considered in the assessment of asthma exacerbations,’ they said.
But Professor Neil Barnes of the British Lung Foundation said he did not think such a link stood up, given that only one case had been reported.
‘Any situation where someone gets stressed could result in their condition worsening and in this one case it seems Facebook happened to be that situation,’ he said.
Professor Jon Ayres of the University of Birmingham, said the issue of psychological stress triggering asthma was ‘as old as the hills’.
‘Facebook simply provides another way in which susceptible people can be exposed to stressful situations,’ he commented.
‘As to being a primary cause of the development of asthma, I regard psychological stress as a very minor cause,’ he said. ‘This is a somewhat interesting case study but very little more than that and I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone to avoid networking sites as a result.’