Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke produce a number of adverse effects, and some are particularly pertinent to women. A new study has reported on the impact of smoke exposure, either by active smoking or secondhand smoke exposure, and its impact on fertility and age at menopause. The findings were published online on December 14 in the journal Tobacco Control.
The authors note that several studies have examined the association of tobacco use with infertility and age at natural menopause; however, few have explored secondhand smoke exposure with these effects. Therefore, they evaluated the associations between lifetime tobacco exposure, both active smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, and infertility as well as natural menopause (before age 50). They reviewed data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.
Information regarding smoking, lifetime fertility status, and age at natural menopause was derived from 93,676 postmenopausal women aged 50–79 who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study from 1993 through1998 at 40 locations in the United States. The data were subjected to statistical analysis to estimate to estimate the impact of different degrees of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
The researchers found that, overall, 15.4% of the 88 732 women included in the analysis on infertility met criteria for the condition, and 45% of the 79,690 women included in the analysis on natural menopause (before age 50) met criteria for the condition. Compared to never-smokers, Active-ever smokers had an increased risk of infertility and for earlier menopause. Never-smoking women with the highest levels of lifetime secondhand smoke exposure had an increased risk for both infertility and earlier menopause. Active-ever smokers became menopausal 21.7 months earlier than the average of 49.4 years for never-smokers not exposed to secondhand smoke and women exposed to the highest level of secondhand smoke became menopausal 13.0 months earlier.
The authors concluded that active smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are associated with increased risk of infertility and natural menopause occurring before the age of 50 years. The researchers are affiliated with: Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York; Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, University at Buffalo, School of Public Health & Health Professions, Buffalo, New York; Division of Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Department of Epidemiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; and Division of Behavioral and Community Health, University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York.