It comes as no surprise that smoking contributes to heart disease,
the primary cause of death in women. It also causes significant lung
ailments. Smoking has unique effects on women, prompting earlier
menopause, worse hot flashes and fragile bones. Dr. Freedman explains
this clearly in the following article and provides even more reasons for
kicking the habit.—Beverly
Vaughn, MD, Medical Coordinator, Menopause and You Program
Cigarette smoking can affect the timing of the onset of menopause, the
intensity of the symptoms of menopause, and the incidence of
osteoporosis after menopause. Women who smoke need to recognize these
risks and do their best to kick
Smoking’s Effect on the Onset of Menopause
Menopause occurs when the ovaries cease to produce estrogen. A gene,
Bax, and a genetic receptor, Ahr, are responsible for the onset of
menopause when they become activated. Researchers at Massachusetts
General Hospital have discovered that the chemicals in smoking directly
activate these genetic components, creating what they call a “specific
pathway” to killing ovarian cells. It has been found that women who
smoke more than ten cigarettes a day are 40 percent more likely to go
into menopause earlier than nonsmokers. Generally, women who smoke will
enter menopause one to two years earlier. Early menopause has been seen
to lead to heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis; therefore, if a
woman can prevent its early onset by stopping smoking, she needs to do
Smoking’s Effect on the Symptoms of Menopause
Many women suffer from the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes
and difficulty sleeping. Women who smoke will likely experience these
symptoms to a greater degree, thus making menopause a more unpleasant
and disruptive process.
Smoking’s Effects after Menopause
If you are a woman who smokes, you are 35 percent more likely to break
your hip after menopause than if you did not smoke. If you are a former
smoker, then you have a 15 percent greater risk of hip fracture. The
number of years you have smoked will affect the risk of fracture more
than the number of cigarettes you tend to smoke. For every five years of
smoking, the risk of hip fracture increases six percent. It has been
found that smoking after menopause has a greater effect on fracture risk
than smoking before menopause. The good news is that for every five
years off smoking, your risk for fracture drops two percent. If you can
stay off cigarettes for 15 years, you will have no added risk for
Smoking leads to many serious health problems in women, including heart
disease, which is the number one killer of women. But smoking also
affects a woman’s experience of menopause: before, during, and after.
Osteoporosis is a potential result of menopause and estrogen reduction,
especially in women who are smokers, small-boned, Caucasian, and/or
Asian. By avoiding smoking, you can avoid the more serious results of
menopause and enjoy your postmenopausal years as a healthier woman.
Smoking Cessation Program: SmokeFREE
If you are a smoker who is interested in stopping, Main Line Health
offers a FREE smoking cessation program, SmokeFREE. This 6-session
behavior modification program addresses the physical and psychological
addiction to smoking. Numerous FREE classes are scheduled throughout the
area. Call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or see
our event calendar for dates, times and locations. Funding provided
by the PA Department of Health.
This article is part of the Menopause and You library,
a Web-based program sponsored by Women’s Health Source.
It is intended as an information resource providing guidelines for
women. As always, check with your own healthcare practitioner with your
specific concerns and questions.
To speak with our nurse counselor, call 1.888.876.8764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Membership on the medical staff of Main Line Hospitals does not
constitute an employment or agency relationship.
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Radnor, PA 19087
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.