Smoking Poses Risks for Women Entering Menopausal Transition

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Have you been thinking about quitting smoking as one of your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re a woman in her 30s and 40s, there are many reasons to make that lifestyle change in 2013.

    First of all, do you want to have a baby? That may not happen because researchers have found that long-term smoking seems to cause a woman’s body into menopause 1-2 years before women who do not smoke However, a new study seems to indicate that quitting smoking may change this dynamic. In this research, 3545 women who had participated in a longitudinal study in Australia provided follow-up information at the 21st- year meeting on their menopausal situation and tobacco use. The researchers’ analysis found that the risk of early menopause was significantly lower among women who had quit smoking in the past as compared to women who were still smoking.

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    Secondly, do you want to do everything you can to avoid hot flashes? One way is to quit smoking. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that menopausal women who smoke may have more hot flashes than menopausal women who don’t light up. “If you are a menopausal smoker who is suffering from hot flashes, know that quitting smoking may help you cool things down,” Dr. Laura Berman stated.

    Thirdly, want to protect yourself from osteoporosis? One way is to stop smoking. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center points to recent studies that have identified a direct relationship between tobacco use and lower bone density. Furthermore, many studies suggest that smoking increases the risk that a person will suffer a bone fracture.  There also is relationship between the length a person smokes and the number of cigarettes consumed in relation to the increase in risk of fracture in old age. While stopping smoking seems to lower the risk of low bone mass and fractures, it may require several years for a former smoker’s risk level to drop.

    Finally, how much do you want to live a long and productive life? Smoking can put at an increased risk of dying a sudden death. A new study published in Circulation: Arrhythmia & Electrophysiology found that women who are light-to-moderate cigarette smokers have an increased risk to die from a sudden cardiac event. In this study, researchers reviewed the records of more than 101,000 women between the ages of 30-55 years of age who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study that started in 1976.  All of these women were healthy at the start of the study and most were white. The participants who smoked said they started their habit while in their late teens.

    These records, which dated from 1980, consisted of biannual health questionnaires that were completed by the nurses. The researchers found that 351 study participants died due to a sudden cardiac event. They also found:

    • Women who smoked 1-14 cigarettes a day had nearly two times higher risk of sudden cardiac death as the participants who didn’t smoke.
    • Participants who did not have any history of heart disease, cancer or stroke but who smoked had two-and-a-half times the risk of sudden cardiac death when compared to healthy participants who had never smoked.
    • The risk of sudden cardiac death increases by eight percent for every five years of continued smoking.
    • Women who have heart disease and who participated in a smoking cessation program saw their risk of dying from a sudden cardiac death drop to that of a nonsmoker within 15-20 years of finishing the cessation program. Women who smoked and who did not have heart disease saw a reduction in sudden cardiac death risk within five years after completing a smoking cessation program.

    “Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor for sudden cardiac death, but until now, we didn’t know how the quantity and duration of smoking effected the risk among apparently healthy women, nor did we have long-term follow-up,” said Roopinder K. Sandhu, M.D., M.P.H., the study’s lead author and a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Alberta’s Mazankowski Heart Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

  • Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    American Heart Association. (2012). Even moderate smoking associated with sudden death risk in women.

    Berman, L. (nd.). Hot flashes inflamed by cigarette smoking.

    Hayatbakhsh, M.R., et al. (2012). Cigarette smoking and age of menopause: a large prospective study.

    NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center.  (2012). Smoking and bone health.

Published On: December 13, 2012