A new study says passive or active smoking cause infertility in women and accelerate menopause.

Result of the study, co-authored by Andrew Hyland, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, was published in the journal, Tobacco Control.

It is a known fact that smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer, stroke, and other heart diseases.

While various studies had linked tobacco with    infertility and early menopause, none made it clear whether second-hand smoking exposure poses the same risks.

To determine this, the researchers analysed the tobacco exposure of 93,676 women aged between 50 years and 79 years who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI OS). All women were enrolled to the study between years 1993 and 1998.

Women who were current or former smokers were asked the age they started, the number of years they had smoked  and the number of cigarettes they smoked daily.

Women who never smoked were asked whether they had ever lived with a smoker during childhood and adulthood, and for how long, and whether they had ever been exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace.

Fertility data was available for 88,372 women and their partners, while 79,690 women had experienced a natural menopause. Infertility recorded was 15.4 per cent (13,621) of the 88,372 women.

Results showed that women with the highest tobacco use who began smoking before the age of 15 experienced menopause at an average of 22 months earlier than non-smokers who had never been exposed to second-hand smoke.

Women who smoked a minimum of 25 cigarettes daily had menopause around 18 months earlier than those who had never smoked.

It was not only active smokers who were found to be at increased risk of infertility and earlier menopause; never-smokers who had been exposed to high levels of second-hand smoke were also at risk.

Women with the highest levels of passive smoking – at least 10 years of living with a smoker in childhood, or at least 10 years working with smoking colleagues, or at least 20 years living with a partner who smoked at home – were at 18 per cent greater risk of infertility than those who had never been exposed to second-hand smoke.


Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.