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Dec 16, 2015 10:52 AM EST

Both active and passive smoking linked to infertility and early Menopause


A new study suggests that smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke may result in early menopause and infertility in women, U.S News reports.

Study author Andrew Hyland, chair of health behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in Buffalo, N.Y. said that even though earlier research has linked smoking with infertility and menopause, "secondhand smoke is less researched," among never-smoking women.

For the study, Hyland and his colleagues studied women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a large study that was launched in 1991 to study at a number of health issues in more than 160,000 generally healthy, postmenopausal women.

Hyland's team looked at the age of menopause and fertility, along with tobacco exposure, among some of the women enrolled in the study.

The study found that both smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke were linked to fertility issues and early menopause.

The results showed that current or former smokers were 14 percent more likely to be infertile and 26 percent more likely to have early menopause as compared to non-smokers.

On the other hand, those exposed to the highest level of secondhand smoke (such as living with a smoker for 10 years or more) were 18 percent more likely to have fertility problems and early menopause, the study found.

However, the study cannot prove cause and effect.

"This is an observational study looking at data already collected," Hyland said. "It [the link] could be something associated with early development and exposure as a young child."

According to Yahoo News, the researchers suggested that the results could be due to the toxins in tobacco smoke, which are known to have adverse effects on hormones and reproduction.

"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. It strengthens the current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoke." 

The study was published online Dec. 15 in the journal Tobacco Control.

Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., said,

"This study provides additional motivation and incentive for women of all ages to avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as to quit smoking," she said. 

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