New studies out show that there’s a definite link between smoking and menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and smoking. Although it’s incredibly hard to quit, menopause expert, Nicole Jaff explains why you need to stop smoking now…
Women who smoke are at a greater risk of going into early menopause before 45. If you smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day, chances are you’ll start menopause two years earlier than normal. Research shows that chemicals found in cigarettes may activate certain genetic components, causing ovarian cells to die. However, if you stop smoking a decade before menopause, you may get a reprieve.
Smoking interferes with oestrogen production. This is one of the major reasons why smoking can make hot flushes worse. In perimenopause, oestrogen levels are already dropping and smoking accelerates this process. This means there’ll be even less oestrogen circulating in your body which can worsen menopausal symptoms.
Many menopausal women who smoke are at risk of osteoporosis. This is due to the toxins in cigarettes which block calcium absorption and further lower levels of oestrogen. Studies show that smokers have an 80% greater risk of fractures. But the good news is, for every 5 years after you stop smoking, your risk for fracture drops by 2%.
Women who smoke have an increased risk for cervical, pancreatic and bladder cancer. This is because thousands of chemicals in the smoke get into the bloodstream and are filtered out of the blood, ending up in the urine, which is stored in the bladder – and are in extended contact with the bladder lining.
Smoking can raise the risk of heart disease. Smoking can cause temporary changes in heart rate, your heart beats faster, raising blood pressure and blood flow. Levels of carbon monoxide in your bloodstream are raised and your heart and other tissues become oxygen deprived. Chemicals in smoke can also lead to hardening of the arteries, and you may even suffer a stroke or heart attack. Because HRT can increase stroke risk, women smokers shouldn’t take it, says Nicole. Quitting may increase your lifespan by as much as 8-20 years.
Smoking causes premature ageing. The reason behind this is that smoking decreases bloodflow around the body. Women who don’t smoke have younger-looking skin than those who do. Chemicals in smoke damage collagen and elastin – connective tissues, which help skin stay resilient. They also cause harmful free-radicals to increase.
The National Council Against Smoking has an excellent website for people who want to quit. Visit http://www.againstsmoking.org for more information.