There’s no denying that menopause, which can be marked by hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes, can be a trying period in the life of a woman. But a new study shows that smoking through menopause can make the experience even more difficult.
The study was led by Rebecca Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois. It found that women who had not smoked for at least five years prior to menopause starting were 45-percent less likely to experience severe or frequent hot flashes than those who kept smoking.
The study also revealed that women who had never smoked experienced fewer or less intense hot flashes than women who had smoked at some point in their lives.
“While the effect was strongest if women quit at least five years before the onset of menopause, even women quitting later did have a better outcome than women who continued to smoke,” Smith noted in the study’s report.
Ellen Freeman, an obstetrics and gynecology researcher based at the University of Pennsylvania, says she hopes the study will help encourage women to give up smoking. “It is never too late to quit, and quitting may reduce other health risks that are even more serious than the hot flashes,” Freeman said.
“To my knowledge, this is the first study to show that stopping smoking in mid-life can reduce hot flashes.”
Smith wholeheartedly agrees that the report should help convince women to stop smoking altogether. “I hope that this encourages women to quit smoking, the earlier the better,” she said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking remains the primary cause of avoidable death in the United States.