Smoking could spur early menopause

 
By Shayna Brouker • Published: January 6th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Need one more reason to stick to your New Year’s resolution to quit the stick? As if you needed another one. Not only can smoking cause lung cancer, heart disease and asthma, just to name a few, now research shows it can cause early menopause, too.

A study of 6,000 women from the U.S., Poland, Turkey and Iran found that ladies who light up could forego fertility a year earlier than non-smokers. Smokers got menopause between the ages of 43 and 50, while women who had never smoked got menopause between 46 and 51, on average.

The study, which was published in the journal Menopause, also found that of 43,000 women, smoking increased the likelihood of early menopause by 43 percent.

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s ability to bear children, as the ovaries stop releasing eggs and produce less estrogen. Lower levels of estrogen can lead to higher risk for colon and ovarian cancer, gum disease, tooth loss and cataract formation … not to mention the not-so-pleasant side effects of hot flashes, mood swings and sleep trouble. Stopping the flow of estrogen too early puts women at risk for these conditions and others, like osteoporosis and heart disease.

So what do cigarettes have to do with it? Experts say smoking could affect how women’s bodies handle estrogen. Chemicals in cigarette smoke could also kill eggs in the ovaries, inviting menopause early.

Sounds like too much for a middle-aged woman to bear, in addition to the demands of work, family and womanhood in general. Hormone replacement therapy, or H-R-T, can alleviate many of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. But if you’re looking to quit the stick, start the new year with nicotine therapy replacement. You just might put off hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings … at least for a few years.