28 September 2010


SCOTTISH scientists have discovered why women who smoke are up to four times more likely to develop a “devastating” ectopic pregnancy.
The condition, which affects around 30,000 women in the UK every year, occurs when a fertilised egg becomes implanted outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes.

Now researchers have found a chemical in cigarette smoke increases a protein in the fallopian tubes, which hinders the transfer of the egg to the womb. The protein, PROKR1, usually allows pregnancies to implant correctly.But smokers were found to have double the levels of the protein in their tubes, compared to non-smokers. The experts believe too much PROKR1 could prevent the tube muscles from contracting and transferring the egg to the womb.

Dr Andrew Horne, of Edinburgh University’s Centre for Reproductive Biology, said: “While it may be easy to understand why inhalation of smoke affects the lungs, this shows that components of cigarette smoke also enter the bloodstream and affect seemingly unconnected parts of the body like the reproductive tract. ”The study, published in the American Journal of Pathology, analysed tissue samples from female smokers and non-smokers, and from women who had previously had ectopic and healthy pregnancies. One in around every 80 pregnancies is ectopic. If left untreated, the fallopian tube can rupture and affect a woman’s ability to conceive in the future.

**Published in "The Scottish Daily Express"

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