New research suggests that a harmful chemical in cigarette smoke could increase the risk of suffering an ectopic pregnancy.
According to research conducted at Edinburgh University, a chemical in cigarette smoke has been found to cause a reaction, which may cause ectopic pregnancies.
The researchers claim the chemical, known as Cotinine, initiates the increase of the protein PROKR1 in the Fallopian tubes, raising the probability of an egg implanting itself outside the womb.
Women who smoked and developed ectopic pregnancies were found to have twice as much PROKR1 in their Fallopian tubes, which may prevent the muscles in the walls of the tubes contracting correctly, hindering the transfer of the egg to the womb.
Dr. Andrew Horne, of the centre for reproductive biology at Edinburgh University 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.’
The study was funded by Wellbeing of Women and analysed tissue samples from both female smokers and non-smokers, and from women who had previously experienced ectopic pregnancies and healthy pregnancies.
Worryingly the results suggest that women who smoke are up to four times more likely to suffer an ectopic pregnancy than those who do not smoke.
There are a staggering 30,000 ectopic pregnancies in the UK each year and 98% of these cases involve the egg implanting in the Fallopian tube rather than correctly in the womb.
Dr. Horne added: ‘While it may be easy to understand why inhalation of smoke effects the lungs, this shows that components of cigarette smoke also enter the blood stream and affect seemingly unconnected parts of the body like the reproductive tract.’