May 24, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Passive And Active Smoking Linked To Reproductive Problems

Dec 17, 2015 12:38 AM EST

A new study warns the association between smoking and reproductive health in women. Researchers link active and passive smoking to infertility and early menopause.

The study found that content in tobacco smoke can cause harmful effects on women's reproduction and hormone production. To arrive at such conclusion, researchers studied the data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study from 1993 to 1998. The team compared women who do not smoke and are not exposed to secondhand smoke with those who smoke and are passive as well. 

Results revealed that those who heavily smoke (25 cigarette sticks per day) have the highest possibility to experience menopause, which is 13 to 18 months earlier than non-smokers. Figures reveal 14 percent and 26 percent increased risks for infertility and menopausal before 50, respectively. 

On the other hand, the same findings were found on passive smokers also. A surprising result revealed that secondhand smoke poses an 18 percent risk of difficulty conceiving a baby and entering menopause earlier. 

Furthermore, factors that increase infertility of secondhand smokers by 18 percent include (i) living in a household with a smoker for at least a decade; (ii) staying with a spouse who has been smoking for 20 years or more; and (iii) working in a place with smokers for 10 years.

However, the causal relationship between the two could not be established yet. The findings were consistent even if factors such as alcohol consumption, use of oral contraceptives and ethnicity were taken into consideration. The researchers believed that a certain chemical in tobacco causes this disruption in the fertility cycle by intervening egg cell production, hindering embryo implantation and preventing the normal menstrual process.

"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 the active and passive tobacco smoke," author Danielle Smith said.  

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