Depending on the type, duration and intensity of cigarette smoking, the efficacy of endogenous and exogenous estrogen can be reduced or completely cancelled. Not only does smoking diminish the beneficial effects of estrogen on hot flushes and urogenital symptoms and its positive effects on lipid metabolism, but smoking also can reduce estrogen's ability to prevent osteoporosis and perhaps also cardiovascular diseases. This is mainly caused by dose-dependent elevated hepatic clearance, partially in conjunction with lower estrogen levels, and has been demonstrated so far only with oral estrogen applications. Compensation for the failure of therapeutic action should not be made by increasing the dose in smokers since this might result in the production of potentially mutagenic estrogen metabolites associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Since the favorable effects of estrogens seem to be not lost in smokers when estrogens are applied transdermally, this route should be preferred in smokers. The most important conclusion from the data presented is that the effects of smoking are very complex and dependent on a multiplicity of factors, so that different types of clinically relevant negative effects must be expected. Women who continue to smoke despite all warnings should be informed that smoking, in addition to all its other negative effects, can also jeopardize the success of hormone replacement therapy.
Keywords: ESTROGEN METABOLISM; ESTROGENS; HORMONE THERAPY; SMOKING.