ATLANTA — Tobacco smoking is an independent risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse, data from the Pelvic Organ Support Study suggest.
The findings from this multicenter, cross-sectional, observational study—known as POSST—contrast with those from the Women's Health Initiative, which suggested that smoking was protective against pelvic organ prolapse, Cecilia K. Wieslander, M.D., reported at the annual meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society.
Of 906 women included in the POSST analysis, 773 were nonsmokers (including 173 former smokers), and 133 were current smokers. On multivariate analysis, smoking was an independent, noninteractive risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse of stage II or greater (odds ratio 2.37), said Dr. Wieslander, a fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Even among nulliparous smokers, the prevalence of prolapse was significantly greater compared with nonsmokers (28% vs. 12%, adjusted odds ratio 1.95). In nonsmokers with one vaginal delivery, the prevalence of prolapse increased from 12% to 27%, so the risk associated with smoking in nulliparous women is greater than the risk associated with one vaginal delivery in nonsmokers.
The findings, which are consistent with laboratory data showing that smoking-induced activation of vaginal macrophage elastase may contribute to the pathogenesis of organ prolapse, suggest that smoking is a modifiable risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse. However, further study is needed to look at dose-response to evaluate the effects of secondhand smoke exposures, to determine if symptoms associated with smoking—such as chronic cough—are a cause of pelvic organ prolapse, and to determine if other illnesses with effects similar to those of smoking—such as inflammation—can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, Dr. Wieslander said.