Even though we know smoking is a dangerous addiction that can lead to cancer and premature death, one in five women in America smokes. As if you needed yet another reason to kick butts, a recent study found that cigarette smoking can complicate menopause. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine found that menopausal women who smoke are likely to suffer from an increased number of hot flashes.
This study follows on the heels of other research that found a link between smoking and an earlier onset of menopause. In that study, researchers at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital found that smokers routinely went into menopause two to three years earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts, and they were also likely to struggle with fertility issues. It seems clear that the toxins in cigarettes are incredibly damaging to a woman’s reproductive health as well as her general health.
If you are a menopausal smoker who is suffering from hot flashes, know that quitting smoking may help you cool things down. There are other factors you should consider as well: For example, there has also been research that has linked more-severe hot flashes with obesity as well as excessive alcohol consumption.
While the symptoms of menopause can be emotionally and physically trying, studies such as these that link hot flashes to poor lifestyle choices indicate that women can decrease uncomfortable side effects by practicing better self-care. As women, we tend to do so much for other people that we never make time for our own health, including making the effort to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. Then, to cope with stress, we turn to substances like alcohol or nicotine for relaxation. Of course, this only further harms our health and puts us at grave risk for problems down the road (and in the present!).
The best thing you can do for your family is to take care of yourself so that you can live a long, happy life with them. Make time to eat right and exercise, and ask your doctor for resources that can help you quit smoking. Not only will quitting help to combat hot flashes, it will lengthen your life and increase your health. Find tips to help you quit at http://www.smokefree.gov/.