Postmenopausal women who smoke have higher sex hormones levels than their non-smoking peers which are potential risk factors for breast and endometrial cancer, affecting the lining of uterus, as well as type 2 diabetes.
“Tobacco smoke, apart from its direct toxic and carcinogenic effects, may also influence chronic disease risk through hormonal mechanisms,” said Judith Brand, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reports.
“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,” added Brand, University Medical Centre Utrecht in The Netherlands who led the study.
Researchers examined blood samples from 2,030 postmenopausal women aged 55-81 years, according to a statement of University Medical Centre.
Participants were categorised as ‘current,’ ‘former’ or ‘never’ smokers based on their responses to questions regarding cigarette use.
Those 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 ‘never’ smokers.
“Obviously, quitting smoking has major health benefits such as prevention of cancer, respiratory and heart diseases,” Brand said.