One in five women in Los Angeles smoke, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. A new study, published September 18 in the journal Menopause, adds another reason that smoking impacts a woman’s health: earlier menopause. Study author Dr. Volodymyr Dvornyk, from the University of Hong Kong, noted that women “should be aware of this effect and possible health consequences” of smoking, in addition to its other known risks. He and his research team conducted a meta-analysis, which pooled data from six studies of approximately 6,000 women in the U.S., Poland, Turkey, and Iran. It revealed that women who smoke may enter menopause about a year earlier than nonsmokers. On average, non-smokers reached the menopause between age 46 and 51, depending on the study population. In all but two of the studies, smokers were younger: between age 43 and 50. The researchers also reviewed five other studies that used a cut-off age of 50 or 51 to stratify women into “early” and “late” menopause groups. Among the more than 43,000 women in that analysis, smokers were 43% more likely than nonsmokers to have early menopause. They wrote, “Our results give further evidence that smoking is significantly associated with earlier [age at menopause] and provide yet another justification for women to avoid this habit.”
Dr. Dvornyk noted that the “general consensus is that earlier menopause is likely to be associated with the larger number and higher risk of postmenopausal health problems, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and the others.” He added that early menopause is also thought to slightly increase a woman’s risk of death in the years following. Two theories regarding smoking and early menopause are (1) Smoking may alter the way a women’s body produces or removes estrogen; and (2) Certain components of cigarette smoke might kill ova (eggs). Dr. Dvornyk and his colleagues did not have information on how long women had been smoking or how many cigarettes they smoked each day; therefore, they could not determine how either of those factors may have affected age at menopause.
In addition to the foregoing health effects of smoking are cosmetic issues. Smoking increases facial wrinkles, stains your teeth, makes your voice hoarse, and gives you bad breath.
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