If you are a heavy smoker then you already know of the risks for chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes but this new one may also give you pause for thought. A recent study of postmenopausal women who smoke showed that they have higher androgen and estrogen levels than non-smoking women, with sex hormone levels being highest in heavy smokers.
Judith Brand, MSc, of University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands and lead author of the study, reported that high levels of these two hormones are already shown as potential risk factors for breast and endometrial cancer as well as type 2 diabetes, but that earlier studies examining the relationship between smoking and sex hormone levels have yielded inconsistent results.
She stated: “The observed increase in sex hormone levels with cigarette use suggests that tobacco smoke, apart from its direct toxic and carcinogenic effects, may also influence chronic disease risk through hormonal mechanisms. The good news is that the effect of cigarette smoking appears reversible, as an almost immediate reduction in sex hormone levels was seen in women who quit using cigarettes.”
This is a reasonable size study as researchers examined blood samples from 2,030 postmenopausal women aged 55-81 years. It revealed that study participants who were current smokers had higher circulating levels of androgens and estrogens, while former’ smokers who had quit within 1-2 years had sex hormone levels the same as those who had never smoked.
So the good news is that it is never too late to stop smoking in order to minimize your risk. You can also control your estrogen dominance by undertaking dietary and lifestyle changes and supplementing with bio-identical natural progesterone to restore balance.