Cigarette tobacco smoke is a potent environmental contaminant known to adversely affect health including fertility and pregnancy.
To examine the associations between second-hand cigarette tobacco-smoke exposure, or active smoking and serum concentrations of steroid hormones using tandem mass spectrometry.
Healthy women (18–45 y) from the general community in the Metropolitan Washington, DC were recruited at the follicular stage of their menstrual cycle. Participants were assigned to one of three study groups: active smokers (N= 107), passive smokers (N= 86), or non-smokers (N= 100). Classifications were based on a combination of self-reporting and serum cotinine concentrations.
Serum androgens, estrogens, progestins, androstenedione, aldosterone, cortisol, corticosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), 11-deoxycortisol and 25-hydroxy-vitamin D3 (25-OHVitD3) and cotinine were measured by isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) (API-5000). Kruskal–Wallis tests were used to assess median differences among the three groups, with Dunn’s multiple comparison test for post hoc analysis.
Serum estrone, estradiol, and estriol concentrations were lower in active and passive smokers than in non-smokers. The three study groups differed significantly in serum concentrations of 16-OHE1, aldosterone and 25-OHVitD3, as well as in the ratios of many of the steroids. Pair-wise comparison of the groups demonstrated significant differences in hormone concentrations between (i) smokers and nonsmokers for aldosterone: (ii) passive smokers and non-smokers for aldosterone, progesterone and estriol. Moreover, for smokers and passive smokers, there were no significant differences in these hormone concentrations.
Smoke exposure was associated with lower than normal median steroid hormone concentrations. These processes may be instrumental in explaining some adverse effects of tobacco smoke on female health and fertility.