If you’re smoking while you’re going through menopause, you may want to put down that cigarette. Almost every day, there are studies being released about what can happen to you if you smoke and are dealing with perimenopause or menopause. The information may help you quit smoking that much faster.
In a recent research study published online in the journal Menopause, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report the first evidence showing that smoking causes earlier signs of menopause. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Perelman School of Medicine Translational and Clinical Research Center, and the Perelman School of Medicine Center of Excellence for Diversity.
In an announcement of the study's findings, it was noted that although previous studies have shown smoking hastens menopause by approximately one to two years regardless of race or genetic background, this study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that genetic background is significantly associated with a further increased risk of menopause in some white women who smoke. In the case of heavy smokers, this can be up to nine years earlier than average in white women with certain genetic variations. Genetic variation refers to diversity in gene frequencies, and can refer to differences between individuals or to differences between populations. In this case, we're talking about differences between individual women in the study. The genetic variants were present in 62 percent of white women in the study population.
"We already know that smoking causes early menopause in women of all races, but these new results show that if you are a white smoker with these specific genetic variants, your risk of entering menopause at any given time increases dramatically," said the study’s lead author, Samantha F. Butts, MD, MSCE (yes, that's really her last name), assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine.
Smoking can also make menopausal symptoms more severe. Dr. Sarah Nyante of the US National Cancer Institute just released a study that found that women smokers are 19% more susceptible to develop breast cancer after menopause than women who don’t smoke after menopause.
Smokefree.gov has four more great reasons to consider entering a smoke-free zone.
Your Skin Ages FAST
In addition to its effects on menopause, smoking can do a number on your skin. Smoking can cause skin to be dry, lose elasticity; you may get wrinkles sooner and even stretch marks. A smoker's skin tone may become dull and grayish. Your teeth will yellow and your fingers will have a brown tinge.
Most women find that they suddenly start gaining weight and their pants shrink during menopause. As if that is not frustrating enough, many smokers find that those menopausal muffin tops are bigger than their non-smoking friends. Smokers also have less muscle tone than non-smokers and it’s harder for them to control diabetes.
Lower estrogen levels
Did you know that smoking lowers your estrogen levels? There are so many other symptoms of low estrogen for example, dry skin, thinning hair, and memory problems. Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.
Other smoke-related health problems
The average age for onset of menopause (when you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months) is 51. According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), during and after menopause, your risk of other health conditions rises, and smoking increases that risk even more, including: Heart disease , stroke, breast cancer and diabetes. There are so many other smoke –related health issues that you put yourself at increased risk for like: decreased bone density, rheumatoid arthritis, gum disease, ulcers, post-surgical complications, and depression.
The good news
Now are you ready to quit? Margery L.S. Gass, MD, NCMP, executive director of NAMS, has some good news to share with us. She notes that women who quit smoking before age 40 erase most of the risk of early death. The risk of stroke and heart disease drops quickly after you stop smoking. (The risk of cancers drops more slowly.) Women who quit by age 50 buy back about six years, and those who quit by age 60 gains about four years of the decade they’d lose if they didn’t quit.
When you add up all the risks that could happen when you’re smoking and going through menopause, it could feel like you’ve got a losing hand in poker. If you want to better your odds, then it might be a good idea to quit smoking. Gamblers say that you can’t beat the house. And if you want to stay in that house for a long time and oh, say, meet your future grandchildren, putting out that cigarette that you’re about to light up right now, is just one step towards a smoke-free future.
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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