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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2000 May-Aug;13(2):91-97.

The influence of menopause and habitual smoking upon serum zinc, serum copper and the cardiovascular and immune parameters of women.

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Dept. Medicine and Ageing, Allergy Section, University Hospital, Chieti, Italy.


One hundred and thirty-three women in general good health were divided into two groups, according to menopausal status. The pre-menopausal group (n=106) was further subdivided into non-smokers (n=76) and smokers (n=30). All of the post-menopausal women were non-smokers (n=27). The determination of blood pressure (BP) and the collection of fasting blood samples were performed in the early morning hours. Habitual smoking increased the number of blood lymphocytes and monocytes in pre-menopausal women. The post-menopause group demonstrated an increase in BP, in serum cholesterol and triglycerides and a reduction of the serum zinc/copper (Zn/Cu) ratio. Serum Zn was positively correlated with serum glucose levels in the pre-menopausal group, regardless of smoking habit, but was negatively correlated in postmenopausal women. This may suggest that menopause induces changes in Zn metabolism and/or in insulin Serum Cu - particularly in smokers - was significantly correlated with blood lymphocytes. This may suggest an effect of smoking on the immune system via an alteration of Cu metabolism, including the synthesis and/or the release of ceruloplasmin, a known marker of inflammation. Moreover, serum Copper levels of both the pre- and the post-menopausal groups were significantly correlated with mean and diastolic B.P. while the serum Zn levels of the pre-menopausal group was significantly correlated solely with diastolic BP, implying that the metal plays a physiological role in some mechanism of blood pressure regulation. In the pre-menopausal non-smokers subgroup and the post-menopausal group, there was a weak, but statistically significant (p<0.01), correlation between systolic and mean BP, and blood lymphocytes levels. These data may be explained by a neuroendocrine influence, related partially to the morning hours.


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