A study by University of Edinburgh Scientists has been published in the American Journal of Pathology explaining why women who smoke could be as much as four times more likely to suffer an ectopic Pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs in around one in every 80 pregnancies and is caused by a fertilised egg implanting outside of the womb. If left untreated, ectopic pregnancies can rupture causing internal bleeding – a situation that kills five women each year in the UK.
The new research shows that smokers have an increased level of the protein PROKR1 in their fallopian tubes. The protein is instrumental in helping pregnancies implant in the womb, but when present in the fallopian tubes can hinder the progress of a fertilised egg, increasing the chances of a pregnancy being ectopic.
The study, funded by Wellbeing of Women, was led by Edinburgh University’s Dr Andrew Horne from the Centre for Reproductive Biology who said: “This research provides scientific evidence so that we can understand why women who smoke are more at risk of ectopic pregnancies and how smoking impacts on reproductive health.”
Izzie Oakley, Services and Support Manager for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust said: “Understanding the causes of Ectopic Pregnancy is one of the keys to helping reduce the number of women who are affected by this dangerous and devastating condition.
“While previous research has recognised an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy to women who smoke cigarettes, this study helps us to understand the actual physical effects of cigarette smoking in relation to ectopic pregnancy and will enable women to make informed choices about their lifestyle whilst understanding the possible impacts of smoking on their future fertility and general health.
“This research gives those women at risk the opportunity to prevent ectopic pregnancy from cigarette smoking by better understanding the reasons to quit.”
“The possible prevention of ectopic pregnancy is another good reason for women, who will already be aware of the risks of cancer and heart or lung diseases, to attempt to give up smoking.
“The NHS offers a wide range of support services. Anyone who wants to stop smoking should contact their GP who can offer help and advice or even refer them to an NHS Stop Smoking support service. These services offer the best support for people who want to give up smoking and studies show that people who take this route are four times more likely to quit. For more information, call the NHS Stop Smoking helpline on 0800 022 4332 (England only). Or visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk“