Smoking And Early Menopause

Menopause is a natural change in the life of a woman. It often begins with perimenopause at around the age of 40 and continues through the 50s until menopause is established. Menopause is the cessation of menses for 12 months. During this period, a woman's body goes through many changes-some of them rather uncomfortable. Most women are in no hurry to arrive at menopause.

Research Indicates Early Menopause For Women Smokers

A Norwegian research report recently showed that women who smoke are likely to go through menopause much earlier than women who do not smoke. Early menopause carries with it increased incidence of heart disease, strokes, and osteoporosis in women younger than the average age of menopause. Hot flashes tend to be far worse and bone loss much more severe, causing fragile bones that break easily.

Menopause happens at a point when the ovaries stop producing estrogen, the hormone that causes the uterine lining to develop in order to house a fertilized egg. When a specific gene, called Bax, and a genetic receptor, called Ahr, becomes activated, they induce menopause. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that the chemicals in smoking cause these genetic components to become activated, and they create what the researchers called a "specific pathway" to killing ovarian cells.

Fractures And Breaks More Likely

A woman who smokes is 35% more likely to break her hip after menopause than a woman who does not smoke. If she quits smoking, the risk reduces to 15%. The number of years a woman smokes has a direct bearing on the way she will go through menopause, especially in the case of breaking or fracturing bones. Hip fractures increase at the rate of six percent for every five years of smoking. Smoking after menopause can cause even more dramatic effects in terms of fracture risks. Conversely, for every five years of smoking cessation, the risk for fractures decreases two percent. Therefore, if a woman can leave cigarette smoking behind for 15 years, the risk for fracture in a woman who quits smoking does not increase over the risk to a woman who has not smoked.

Heart Disease Increases And Results From Smoking

Heart disease is the primary cause of death in women. Researchers in the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program in the US said the effect of smoking on the early onset of menopause might account for the connection between menopause and heart disease. Post-menopausal women tend to have a higher rate of coronary heart disease than women who are premenopausal at the same age. Women who smoke go through menopause earlier than those who do not, making them post-menopausal at a much earlier age. The researchers found that since smoking is known to increase the chances of the development of heart disease, and it is now implicated in the early onset of menopause, it is smoking, rather than menopause itself that might be the explanation of the higher rate of heart disease statistics.

By avoiding smoking, a woman can avoid the more serious implications of menopause and ultimately enjoy her post-menopausal years in good health.

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