November 15, 2008

Smoking Raises Risk Of PMS

New research from the University of Massachusetts finds that women 27 to 44 years old who smoke double their risk of suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), particularly hormone-related symptoms such as bloating, backaches, breast tenderness and acne.

"Our findings lend further support to the idea that smoking increases the risk of moderate to severe PMS, and provides another reason for women, especially adolescents and young women, not to smoke," Dr. Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who led the study, told Reuters.

Up to one in five women have PMS severe enough to interfere with normal activities and affect relationships, wrote Bertone-Johnson and her team in a report about their study.

Smoking is known to affect levels of several different hormones.  Indeed, the few studies conducted to date on PMS and smoking have suggested that women who suffer PMS are more likely to be smokers, the researchers said.

To further examine this relationship, the scientists reviewed and analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study II, which has been following 116,678 registered nurses in the United States since 1989. The researchers reviewed a subset of women who were without PMS during the first two years of the study, and compared the 1,057 who later developed PMS to the 1,968 who did not.

They found that the women who were current smokers were 2.1 times as likely as non-smokers to report PMS within the next two to four years.  The risk was directly correlated to the amount the women smoked, and those who had started smoking at younger ages were at even greater risk.  For example, women who began smoking prior to turning 15 were 2.53 times more likely to develop PMS.

"Our findings do not suggest that this is entirely due to the fact that women who start smoking at younger ages smoke for more years than those starting when they are older. Additional research on the impact of smoking at different times in women's lives is needed," said Bertone-Johnson.

"Previous studies suggest that smoking may alter levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones, many of which may be involved in the development of PMS. Some studies have found that smokers have shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles than non-smokers. Smoking may also lower levels of vitamin D in the body, which also may increase a woman's risk of developing PMS."

A study conducted in 2005 found that 26% of female 12th-graders had smoked on at least one of the previous 30 days, Bertone-Johnson and her team wrote in their report.

"Given the high prevalence of this behavior in young women, these findings may provide additional incentive for young women to avoid cigarette smoking."

The report was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.


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