Second-hand smoke linked to early menopause, infertility: study

If women want to quit smoking, new research suggests that they should time it with their menstrual cycle. Getty Images/Sabina Dimitriu

Smoking and second-hand smoke have both been linked to the onset of early menopause and infertility, according to a new study.

According to the study, published online in the journal Tobacco Control, smoking and second-hand smoking are linked to the acceleration of menopause before the age of 50.

The study reveals that high levels tobacco smoke exposure can lead to the arrival of menopause one to two years earlier than non-smokers.

The research is based on information obtained on lifetime smoking habits, fertility problems and age of natural menopause of some 93,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.

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The results of the study showed that, compared with people who have never smoked, current or former smoking was associated with a 14 per cent greater risk of infertility and a 26 per cent risk of menopause before the age of 50.

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“This is one of the first studies of this size and statistical power to investigate and quantify active and passive smoking and women’s health issues,” the study’s researchers said in a statement. “It strengthens the current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoke.”

Moreover, the highest level of second-hand smoke exposure was associated with the arrival of menopause 13 months earlier than those at the lowest level (no exposure), researchers said.

The study admits that “the clinical significance of earlier menopause is not clear but other studies have linked earlier menopause to a heightened risk of death from any cause.”

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The U.S. study was conducted on women, between the ages of 50 and 79, who had gone through menopause between 1993 and 1998.

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