The risk of infertility and early menopause increases significantly for women who use tobacco or are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to a study led by Roswell Park researchers and published in the current issue of Tobacco Control. Information about smoking, lifetime fertility status and age of menopause was analyzed from 88,732 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Observation Study. This is one of the first studies of this size and statistical power to investigate and quantify the impact of active tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke on women’s reproductive health.
“This study strengthens current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoke,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park. “The toxins found in tobacco smoke are known to adversely impact both fertility and the natural age of menopause. Smoking negatively impacts every organ in every part of the body.”
One noteworthy finding of this study is the impact of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke as a child, living 20 or more years with someone who smoked at home, or working for 10 or more years with colleagues who smoked increased a woman’s risk of infertility problems by 18%. These women also underwent menopause an average of 13 months earlier than lifetime nonsmokers. Early menopause is associated with premature death.
Current or former women smokers experienced menopause 1 to 2 years earlier than lifetime nonsmokers. Tobacco use also increased their risk for menopause before age 50 by 26%. These smokers also had a 14% increased risk of infertility.
For more information, see the study at the journal of Tobacco Control.
Deborah Pettibone, Public Information Specialist