Smoking And Early Menopause

Early Menopause Is Linked To Smoking

A Norwegian study on the association between smoking and early menopause determined that women who smoke are more likely to begin menopause before the age of 45. This early onset of menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease in these women. Additional studies in the US, and other countries involving more than 57,000 women, confirmed the findings of the Norwegian study.

Collectively, the studies showed that the more she smokes, the earlier a woman will experience menopause. A woman who quits smoking ten years before menopause is less likely than a woman who continues to smoke, to have stopped menstruating before age 45. Women who quit smoking by middle age may not be affected by early onset menopause. However, women who smoke later in life are at much higher risk for early menopause.

The average age of women in developed countries to stop menstruation is between the ages of 44 and 54-the average age being 50. The research showed that a woman who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day at ages 48 or 49 is nearly twice as likely to be past menopause as a woman who never smoked. Women at 50 to 51 years of age who never smoked were 25 percent less likely to be past menopause than women who smoked at that age.

There's A "Striking Association"

An international research project, the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, noted a "striking association" between smoking and the onset of menopause when they were investigating the relationship between smoking and heart disease in women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. As the researchers took a closer look at the data, they found it to suggest that smoking may precipitate earlier menopause. At each age investigated, the women who were smokers were more likely to be past menopause than those who had never smoked, and heavy smokers were past menopause earlier than light smokers were. The findings were similar in all countries and the researchers said they could determine no other factors to account for their findings of the effect of smoking on early menopause.

Possible Reasons For The Link

In the British medical journal, The Lancet, researchers discussed two possible reasons for the connection between smoking and menopause. One suggests the effect of nicotine on the central nervous system, which causes changes in hormone secretion that may lead to menopause. The other was the effect upon sex hormones by enzymes that are influenced by cigarette smoke.

The early onset of menopause may also be linked to the association of menopause and heart disease. Post-menopausal women tend toward higher rates of coronary heart disease than women who are of the same age but are premenopausal. Smoking is positively associated with heart disease and with the research results indicating a direct link to menopause, it appears the real reason for heart disease is smoking, not menopause.