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Steroids. 1990 Nov;55(11):507-11.

The effect of smoking on serum progesterone, estradiol, and luteinizing hormone levels over a menstrual cycle in normal women.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY 10003.


Since smoking has been shown to affect serum progesterone and estradiol levels in postmenopausal women, we evaluated the levels of these hormones and luteinizing hormone (LH) over an entire menstrual cycle (17 points) in eight healthy nonsmokers and eight healthy smokers. The total length of the cycle and the lengths of the follicular and luteal phases did not differ between the groups. There was no difference in estradiol, progesterone, or LH levels during the periovulatory and luteal phases. Follicular-phase serum progesterone, which had a level 37% higher in smokers, showed a plateau in both groups (28.3 +/- 5.7 ng/dl versus 20.7 +/- 5.7; P less than 0.0001). Follicular-phase serum estradiol showed a rising curve in both groups. The mean value in smokers was slightly higher than that in nonsmokers (107 pg/ml versus 95; P approximately 0.05); during the early part of the follicular phase, prior to the rapid preovulatory increase, the difference was greater (23%) and of higher statistical significance (80 pg/ml versus 65; P less than 0.001). The follicular-phase LH levels of smokers were skewed downward from the levels in nonsmokers, presumably by negative feedback from the elevated estradiol and progesterone levels; the difference was significant (P less than 0.001). The elevations of serum progesterone and estradiol in smokers probably represent activation of adrenocortical secretion by smoking. The greater and more clear-cut rise of progesterone than of estradiol is probably due to the fact that essentially all of the follicular-phase serum progesterone is secreted by the adrenal, while only part of the follicular-phase serum estradiol comes from the adrenal (via androstenedione and estrone).

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