For every 25 percent increase in the perceived threat of job loss, the risk of asthma rose by 24 percent, the study found.

Among those who believed that they were very likely to lose their job the risk of asthma rose to 60 percent compared with those who thought job loss was unlikely or non-existent.

"The findings back up other epidemiological studies pointing to a link between the development of asthma and stress, particularly stress related to job loss," researchers noted.

The team based their findings on over 7,000 working adults who responded to the German Socio-Economic Panel Study - an annual representative survey of the German population - in 2009 and 2011.

The survey covered a period of severe economic downturn across Europe, which began in 2008. All respondents were asked in 2009 how likely they thought it was that they might lose their job over the next two years.

Their answers were graded in 10 percent increments from 0-100 percent and divided into high versus low or no threat.

The researchers used a cut-off point of 50 percent or greater likelihood of unemployment versus a less than 50 percent probability.

Between 2009 and 2011, 105 new cases of asthma were diagnosed among the survey group, half of whom were women.

Those who did not feel their jobs were secure were less likely to be on permanent contracts and more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.

After taking into account various socio-demographic factors, depression and lifestyle, the analysis indicated that asthma risk seemed to rise with increasing job insecurity.

The paper appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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