Older Women Up Cancer Ante by Smoking

Type 2 diabetes and some cancers linked to smoking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The younger a smoker is that decides to quit, obviously the better for their health. Women in their golden years can receive immediate benefits from quitting.

A recent study shows that postmenopausal women who smoke have higher androgen and estrogen levels in their blood than women who used to smoke or who have never smoked. The good news? Women who had quit smoking within two years of the study had the same hormone levels as those who had never smoked.

"It's never too late to quit smoking and receive benefits."

Judith Brand, M.Sc., of University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands and lead author of the study reports that the increase in sex hormone levels with cigarette smoking, apart from its direct toxic and carcinogenic effects, may also influence breast cancer, endometrial cancer and type 2 diabetes risk by hormonal mechanisms.

Thankfully, hormones decrease almost immediately once a woman quits smoking.

It is already known that quitting smoking also has huge health benefits including preventing of heart disease, respiratory illnesses and cancer. Brand explains that additional benefits may be had in terms of hormone-related disease risks, but this requires further research.

In this study, researchers included blood samples from 2,030 postmenopausal women who were anywhere from 55 to 81 years old. The women were placed in three categories: Never smoked, former smokers or current smokers. Researchers found that women who were placed in the current smokers group had the highest levels of androgens and estrogens, while women in the former smokers group had sex hormone levels comparable to the never smoked group.

This study is appears in the October 2011 issue of The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolis.

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Review Date: 
August 31, 2011
Last Updated:
September 5, 2011