Passive smoking poses high risks for women
Passive smoking has been linked to infertility in women and causing earlier menopause, a new study proves.
While it's known actively smoking cigarettes has a negative impact on health, this research highlights just how dangerous it is to be around cigarette smoke in any capacity - even if you're not directly inhaling.
The results, published in journal Tobacco Control, conclude women who smoke, either directly or passively, could experience the menopause one or two years earlier than those who have never smoked or been around smokers.
Current and former smokers showed a 14 per cent greater risk of infertility, while passive smokers who'd been exposed to the highest levels of fumes were 18 per cent more likely to have trouble conceiving. The highest level was set at living with a smoker for 10 or more years as a child, 20 years of living with a partner who smoked at home and 10 years of working with smoking colleagues.
There was also a 26 per cent higher risk of going through the menopause before 50 for current or former smokers and the menopause arrived 13 months early for passive smokers.
To draw their conclusions, scientists studied data from 79,960 women aged 50 to 79, who'd taken part in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. They'd all experienced a natural menopause, which means they'd had no ovary removal and their periods had stopped for 12 consecutive months.
Participants were quizzed on their smoking habits, whether they'd experienced fertility issues and how old they were when they went through the menopause.
Smokers were asked about daily cigarette intake, former smokers were asked at what age they'd stopped smoking and for how many years they had the habit, while non-smokers were quizzed on whether they had lived with a smoker or been around any in the workplace.
There was a clear link between being exposed to cigarette smoke and fertility issues and an earlier menopause, the scientists noted.
"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," the researchers said.
"It strengthens the current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoke."