Women Risk Infertility for Cigarettes
Health Media Ltd - July 16, 2001
The study, which is published in Nature Genetics, identified two proteins inside egg cells that have key roles in causing infertility when exposed to toxic chemicals. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) chemicals, which are present in tobacco smoke and are released into the environment by fossil fuel combustion, bind to a receptor called AHR inside egg cells of the ovaries. This binding increases the level of a gene called Bax, which triggers a suicide command causing the destruction of eggs in the ovaries.
To highlight the impact that these findings have for female smokers, the researchers grafted tissues from human ovaries under the skin of mice. There was a dramatic increase in the degeneration of eggs in the ovarian tissue after the mice were given a single injection of the PAH compound. These findings could explain why female smokers experience an earlier menopause than non-smokers.
Jonathan Tilly, a scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, in the US, where the study was conducted, said the discovery had grave implications for female smokers. "Women who smoke undergo menopause earlier, and we've correlated this with exposure to a class of chemicals in tobacco smoke that accelerate the death of egg cells in the ovaries," he said.
A spokesman for Action on Smoking and Health said the study presented clear messages about human fertility. "This is yet another in the long list and growing list of medical problems caused by smoking. There is hardly any part of your body which isn't harmed by smoke, and this, along with the research linking smoking with impotence in men, shows that people who want children should quit now," he said.
(c) Health Media Ltd 2001 http://www.health-secure.net
To see more focused health-related content, go to http://www.health-news.co.uk